Finance Committee approves bill boosting settler business and hotels

Left wing lawmakers warn legislation is part of “creeping annexation."

By
June 13, 2016 21:37
2 minute read.
Neveh Ya’acov

The Jewish neighborhood of Neveh Ya’acov with the settlement of Psagot in the background. (photo credit: ANAV SILVERMAN)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For a symbolic $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Don't show it again

The Finance Committee has approved a bill that would boost settlement business and make it easier to construct hotels and field schools in Gush Etzion and other West Bank areas outside of Jerusalem.

The Encouragement of Capital Investment legislation has already passed the Knesset in a first reading, and returns to the Knesset for a second and third reading before it becomes law.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


But right-wing lawmakers and settlers already celebrated its passage on Monday, grateful that it now granted them the same tax breaks and incentives that business receive for projects within the Green Line.

This includes tourism and hotel projects in the area of the West Bank just outside of Jerusalem.

Settler business owners could not previously benefit from those tax breaks because the law granting such incentives did not apply to Judea and Samaria.

There are no hotels in Judea and Samaria, but there is an active industry of field schools and small cottages for rent, known as tzimmers.

The head of the Gush Etzion Field School, Yaron Rosenthal, called it an “historic amendment” that would give a 20 percent return to owners of tourism and hotel projects as well as event halls.



Meretz party head MK Zehava Gal- On attacked the new bill as tantamount to “creeping annexation,” because it was the application of an Israeli law onto the West Bank, which is under Israeli military and civilian rule.

Industrial zones in Area C of the West Bank will now have the same legal status as those within the Green Line, Gal-On said, and that the legislation “gives a stamp of authenticity to the annexation of Judea and Samaria.”

Gal-On added that it was also another example of disproportionate government expenditure for settlers and settlements, who already receive more than their fair share of tax-payer funds. She cited as an example the Education Ministry, which provides twice as much funding to educate a child over the Green Line than it does within it.

MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) said he supported the rights of Israeli citizens to benefit from the Capital Investment Encouragement Law, but that they should do so by investing in factories inside the Green Line or by transferring their businesses there.

“What is happening here essentially is that the government is giving money to business that will produce products that will later be boycotted in Europe, so what have we achieved exactly?” he asked.

It’s as if “one hand does not know what the other hand is doing” in this government, Levy said. “I oppose this law.”

Levy added that if this was the general direction in which the government was headed, it might as well just annex Judea and Samaria, a move which would eliminate any legal issues on any matter.

MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi), who supports the bill, said that since the residents of Judea and Samaria already pay taxes, they should also receive the same financial benefits as other taxpayers.

Justice Ministry representative Edna Harrel defended the Finance Committee, saying the bill had not contributed to the creeping annexation of Judea and Samaria nor had they provided its citizens with extra benefits. Rather, she said, the legislation simply allows the government to address a situation of inequality, and allow Israeli citizens living on both sides of the Green Line to receive the same tax benefits.


Related Content

Member of Knesset Rachel Azaria
June 24, 2018
MK Rachel Azaria joins crowded Jerusalem mayoral field

By GIL HOFFMAN