Politicians temporarily block funds for West Bank settlements and Gaza evacuees

Funding requests were put forward by Netanyahu, who is also the acting Finance Minister replacing Yesh Atid Party head Yair Lapid.

December 9, 2014 10:28
1 minute read.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset in Jerusalem, December 3. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Left wing politicians temporally blocked NIS 80 million in West Bank settlement funding that was scheduled for approval by the Finance Committee on Monday morning.

They also temporarily rejected NIS 60 million for the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division, half of which was earmarked for infrastructure for permanent communities for Gaza evacuees. 

The funds were just a fraction of a much larger package of NIS 7.1 billion end-of-year monetary transfers that lawmakers hurried to approve on Monday before the 19th Knesset dispersed for elections. The NIS 7.1 billion sum included NIS 5.7 billion for defense.

On Tuesday the Finance Committee will continue its debate on the funding for West Bank settlements and Gaza evacuees, even though the Knesset formally voted to disperse itself on Monday night.

The funding requests were put forward by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the acting Finance Minister replacing Yesh Atid Party head Yair Lapid.

Left wing politicians accused Netanyahu of using that position to begin campaigning to retain his post as prime minister by including a request for settlement funding in the transfers.

Meretz MK Esawi Frij wrote a letter to the Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein protesting the transfers particularly the request for settlement funding.

“This is a last minute attempt at political blackmail,” he said. “Netanyahu’s government is over and should already be considered a transition government which lacks the authority to advance such requests,” Frij wrote.

A number of committee members also protested the last second addition of funding items, including the settlement spending.

Committee Chairman Nissim Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) said however that the items had been fast-tracked because the Knesset dispersal presented an unusual situation.

Yigal Delmoni, the deputy head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria said that such funds were transferred annually. More than half the money is earmarked for security for the settlements, he said and added that there was nothing unusual in this kind of request.

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