Each family evacuated from the illegal West Bank settlement outpost of Amona in the coming days will receive NIS 1 million ($260,000) for agreeing to move, the left-wing settlement watchdog Peace Now charged Monday.
The government, it said, was sending a “clear message” that “in the settlements, crime and threats pay.”
There was no official confirmation of the Peace Now figure.
On Sunday, residents of Amona — a community built illegally on private Palestinian land — voted 45 to 25, with two abstentions, to evacuate peacefully in return for a government promise to provide 24 of the settlement’s 40 families with mobile homes on a plot just meters from the outpost. The remaining families will be given temporary residences in the nearby Ofra settlement.
Later Sunday, the cabinet approved NIS 1.2 billion ($310 million) in across-the-board cuts for the 2017-2018 budget in order to establish the new public broadcasting corporation, build new schools in ultra-Orthodox communities, and finance the relocation of the Amona outpost, officials said.
Education, health and welfare services will be among those hit by the budget cuts, which amount to nearly two percent of total government expenditure.
“The right-wing settler government has conveyed a clear message — in the settlements, crime and threats pay, and how they pay,” Peace Now said.
Of NIS 140 million ($36.2 million) earmarked for the evacuation of Amona, each family stood to receive a million shekels, the NGO calculated — “1 million shekels for each family which broke the law and set up home on stolen land.”
“The financing will come from a budget cut across all ministries. And for what? So that Netanyahu won’t anger the Lords of the Land in the settlements, and will not get pictures of the State of Israel acting according to the law and evacuating an illegal outpost on its watch?
“Do you know of other Israelis who broke the law and got a million shekels from the government as a gift?”
Channel 10 News on Monday provided a breakdown of the cost of moving families to new accommodation.
Out of NIS 137.5 million ($35.6 million), NIS 40 million ($10.3 million) has been earmarked for each family for “rehabilitation of their lives,” NIS 55 million ($14.2 million) for infrastructure and landscaping at Shvut Rachel — a settlement next to which permanent housing for Amona evacuees has been proposed, NIS 30 million ($7.8 million) for public buildings in Shvut Rachel, NIS 9 million ($2.3 million) for infrastructure and public buildings in the area marked for temporary evacuee housing and NIS 3.5 million ($905,000) for guestrooms for evacuated families.
Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich on Sunday evening welcomed the deal struck with Amona residents for having saved “the people of Israel much pain and much blasphemy.” The agreement would help preserve the “delicate fabric” of Israeli society,” he said, according to the Walla website.
One Facebook follower responded: “The extent of poverty interests them [the politicians] as much as watching paint dry. The health and welfare services are being cut because of their whims. Leeches. Blood suckers. Givat Amal was evacuated by the government without turmoil and violence.”
Givat Amal in Tel Aviv — then home to some 150 Jews — was evacuated in September 2014 after the Supreme Court ruled that residents did not legally own their properties.
The working class neighborhood — to which residents were originally sent by the government in the late 1940s — sat on land valued at billions of shekels owned by Israeli businessman Yitzhak Tshuva, who planned to redevelop the area with luxury apartment complexes.
But another Facebook user expressed support for the government, writing: “Great! All’s well that ends well! After the Amona problem is solved, what remains is to end all illegal Arab building in the Negev [in southern Israel], in the Galilee [in the north] and in East Jerusalem. They are the real thieves whose illegal building, for some reason, doesn’t cause anyone loss of sleep.”
This echoed a pledge made Saturday evening by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Amona residents that he would destroy unlawful [Arab] buildings ‘all over Israel.’
After over a decade of delays and legal wrangling, the High Court ruled in 2014 that Amona, which lies east of Ramallah, was built on private Palestinian land and must be demolished by December 25. The impending evacuation has threatened to destabilize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, which relies heavily on the pro-settlement right.