EU: European taxpayers bear the burden of settlements

In unusually harsh statement, EC says settlement policy, including settler-only roads, checkpoints, land expropriation strangle Palestinian economy.

Settlement building 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
Settlement building 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Israel's settlement policy helps strangle the Palestinian economy and makes the Palestinian government more dependent on foreign aid, the European Commission said Monday. In an unusually harsh statement, the commission said that "it is the European taxpayers who pay most of the price of this dependence." The commission said expropriation of fertile land for Israeli settlements, roads that serve settlers only and West Bank checkpoints helped constrain Palestinian economic growth and made the Palestinian government more dependent on aid. The European Union is one of the largest donors to the Palestinian Authority. The commission said that in 2009 alone, it had paid more than 200 million euros ($280 million) to help cover the Palestinian budget deficit. In related news Monday, The Jerusalem Post found that first-time home buyers can receive a bigger mortgage if they move to settlements such as Itamar and Eilon Moreh than to the city of Ashkelon. The data comes from the Construction and Housing Ministry Web site. Banks use the ministry's formula to calculate how much money can be lent to a family, based on the number of children, the time the parents spent in the army, their immigration status and the region where the home is located. This means, for example, that a family of five can receive a mortgage of NIS 244,020 in the Itamar settlement, located southeast of Nablus and some 28 kilometers over the 1949-1967 armistice line, but in Ashkelon, the formula awards the family a mortgage of NIS 223,620. The additional NIS 20,400 is one of the last vestiges of a system of grants and tax breaks eliminated under former prime minister Ariel Sharon, through which the state encouraged people to live in the settlements. Tovah Lazaroff and Rebecca Anna Stoil contributed to this report