Finance committee to revisit issue of settlement funding

Political fight between Bayit Yehudi, Yesh Atid delayed transfer of NIS 80.5 million to West Bank settlements.

Efrat settlement 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner )
Efrat settlement 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner )
The Knesset Finance Committee is expected to revisit the issue of allocating NIS 80.5 million to local and regional councils of West Bank settlements on Tuesday, with an eye to approving the transfer of funds.
A political fight between two coalition parties, Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid, delayed the transfer when the issue was raised last Tuesday.
When it appeared that Yesh Atid, together with Meretz party leader MK Zehava Gal- On, would attempt to block the transfer, committee chairman MK Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) opted not to bring the matter to a vote.
The tensions between parties began last week when Bayit Yehudi vetoed a Yesh Atid bill extending a tax break – that encourages women to return to the workplace after maternity leave – to gay parents, because its wording would have set a legal precedent of recognizing gay partnerships.
Bayit Yehudi offered Yesh Atid an alternative text for the bill that would give the tax benefits to gay parents without changing the status quo on gay marriage, but Yesh Atid rejected it.
Following the veto, a senior Yesh Atid source promised to “make Bayit Yehudi pay in the Finance Committee,” saying the party would block funds to settlements.
But in the last couple of days, the two parties have looked to find an impasse to the tensions between them, which otherwise could lead to a coalition crisis.
Bayit Yehudi MK Orit Struck said that there must not be a long-term situation in which two coalition partners are at odds over financial matters.
Technically speaking, the money for the West Bank settlements would go to the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division, which would then transfer it to regional councils.
Yigal Delmonti of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip said that the funds would be transferred through the WZO to the settlements for the normative services afforded citizens anywhere else in the country.
Struck said that some of the funds would be used to help in the absorption of Bnei Menashe residents in the Kiryat Arba settlement.
But Gal-On claimed on her Facebook page that the funds would be used for new homes for settlers.