Labor MK: State quietly giving huge sums to settlements

Citing NIS 600m figure, Stav Shaffir accuses government of granting preferential treatment to West Bank communities

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Labor Party member Stav Shaffir at a Finance committee meeting in the Knesset. December 16, ,2013 (photo credit: Flash90)
Labor Party member Stav Shaffir at a Finance committee meeting in the Knesset. December 16, ,2013 (photo credit: Flash90)

The government allocated nearly NIS 600 million ($172 million) to West Bank settlements since last October, outside of the annual budget and at the expense of Israeli citizens, Labor MK Stav Shaffir charged on Sunday.

Of the funds transferred, NIS 133 million ($38 million) were given to the World Zionist Organization Settlement Division; NIS 24 million ($6.8 million) were dispensed for projects encouraging younger people to settle in the West Bank; NIS 28 million ($8 million) were allotted to the settlement of Beit El to complete building projects; and NIS 36 million ($10.3 million) went for compensation for the settlement construction freeze, according to Shaffir.

These requests were approved by the Knesset Finance Committee after the budget was set in July 2013, although all the information was known in advance, Shaffir said. She alleged that officials conspired to keep the allocations out of the public eye.

“The government is keeping this extra funding a secret from the public,” Shaffir said. “Instead of dividing the tax money equally and fairly between the entire Israeli public, one small group got, under the table, more than everyone.”

Shaffir also accused the government of “pretending” to work toward assisting the middle class and paying lip service toward the framework agreement with the Palestinians, while simultaneously working to develop the settlements.

The Finance Committee maintained that the funds were approved in last year’s budget, and the transfer was merely a technicality. The committee is set to process a request from the WZO Settlement Division for an additional NIS 177 million ($58 million) on Monday.

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