Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and Settlements Minister Orit Strock from his Religious Zionism party are advancing a government decision to allocate NIS 670 million ($180 million) to West Bank settlements and allow the Interior Ministry to transfer funds to “unregulated places” — meaning illegal settler outposts — according to the Kan public broadcaster.
Kan reports that the move will be partly funded by shaving the budgets of some other ministries — including NIS 130 million ($35 million) from the Education Ministry and NIS 200 million ($53.5 million) from the Interior Ministry.
The report notes that the timing of the move — two months before nationwide mayoral elections — creates legal difficulties since such a government decision would transfer funds to specific localities.
Smotrich’s budgetary actions have recently come under criticism after it was revealed that he has been holding back on NIS 2.5 billion ($670 million) in funds meant for Arabs in East Jerusalem. Under widespread criticism, Smotrich announced a team will be formed to ensure the money isn’t misused, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the funds will then be transferred.