West Bank settlement city of Ariel.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The Finance Ministry has asked the heads of settler local and regional councils to submit a report detailing how state funds have been sent and how much money has been given to the political arm of the movement — the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria.
The ministry is investigating funding by local settler councils to the movement’s political arm in the wake of a Channel 2 report eight days ago, that NIS 148 million in state funds earmarked for security and education had been funneled instead over the last four years into the coffers of the Council of Jewish Communities.
After the report was issued, Finance Minister Yair Lapid froze the transfer of funds to local and regional settlers’ councils. He also asked his office to investigate the matter and report back within a week.
But on Sunday, a spokesman for the ministry said he did not have an update on the matter, nor did he know if the freeze on the transfer of funds had been lifted.
Yigal Delmonti, the deputy head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria, said on Sunday that he had also not heard back from the Finance Ministry.
But funds are only transferred several times a year, he said.
The ministry has asked local and regional council heads to submit financial reports, he said.
Delmonti has consistently said that the Channel 2 report is not true, noting that his council’s budget was only NIS 12 million last year.
A 2006 High Court of Justice ruling clarified that tax funds could be used to support the Council of Jewish Communities and that this financial support could be extended to political battles, even if they were against the government’s agenda, Delmonti said.
But the court clarified that this money could only come from local property taxes, he said.
His council’s funding is legal and that is what the Finance Ministry will see when it reviews the reports by local and regional settler councils, Delmonti said.