A controversial bill that allows for a 35 percent tax exemption for
pro-settlement donations passed its first hurdle on Sunday and now heads to the
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation gave preliminary
approval to a bill that allows for tax exempt status to be applied to donations
for West Bank settlement activity.
Israel has promised the international
community it would not provide special incentives for West Bank settlement
Hagit Ofran of Peace Now charged the bill is a back-handed way
of offering incentives for West Bank settlement development and
Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), who proposed the bill
along with MK Tzion Pinyan (Likud) has denied the charge.
The bill amends
the list of nonprofits whose donors can receive the exemption by including
groups and institutions that “encourage settlement,” he said.
the language in the bill is broad and does not specify any specific region of
He added that in proposing the bill, he had wanted to help
Jewish development in the Negev and the Galilee.
It could also be applied
to Beduin villages, he said.
Elkin said he is pleased the government
decided to encourage such activity in the Negev and Galilee, and recognizes that
it is as important as cultural or religious organizations.
“This will put
an end to the absurd situation in which the Islamic Movement gets tax benefits
for building mosques, but non-profit organizations like Ayalim and Or [that
encourage building towns in the Negev and Galilee] remained deprived,” the
coalition chairman said.
But the words “Negev and Galilee” are not
mentioned in the bill or its explanatory section.
Instead the bill’s
explanatory section speaks of encouraging “Zionist settlement.”
now moves to the Knesset where it must undergo a preliminary reading, likely to
take place Wednesday.
It then must pass three plenum votes, as well as
committee discussions, before becoming law.
Separately, the Ministerial
Legislation Committee rejected on Sunday a bill proposed by MK Ya’acov Katz
(National Union) that would prohibit the nighttime destruction of illegal
Katz is expected to ask the plenum to vote on the matter
Wednesday as a private member’s bill.