AGNES KELETI receives the Israel Prize from Education Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: SHLOMI AMSALEM)
A category has been added to the Israel Prize awarded annually on Independence Day: a Settlement Prize was included under special achievements for influential, inspiring and groundbreaking figures.
The Education Ministry, which is responsible for Israel’s most highest honor, released the list of award categories earlier this month for the upcoming Israel Prize.
According to a Channel 2 News report on Tuesday, the intention was to award this prize to Ze’ev Hever (Zambish), the leader of the Amana settler movement which builds most of the settlements in the West Bank.
Peace Now slammed Education Minister Naftali Bennett, accusing him and the ministry of turning the prize into a political tool.
“Bennett is turning the Israel Prize into the ‘Greater Israel prize,’ Peace Now said in a statement. “The intention to give this prize to a settler for the third year in a row, despite the fact that settlers make up only 4% of the entire population, and in light of the controversial nature of the settlements, shows that, in the State of Israel in 2017, there is no end in sight for this type of shamelessness.”
In response, the ministry told The Jerusalem Post
that these allegations put out by Channel 2 News “are not based on reality; this is the most prestigious award in the country. We do not just give things out to friends; it does not work like that.”
The ministry also clarified that “it’s not a settlement prize, it is an agriculture and settlement prize that will be given out only once this year.”
“In honor of Israel’s 70th birthday, more prizes will be awarded on a onetime basis,” the ministry added.
The Israel Prize also awards other areas of achievement, including the humanities, social sciences, Jewish studies, life sciences and exact sciences, and arts and culture.