Billions for settlers `hidden' in ministries' budgets, MK says
By Zvi Zrahiya
[Ha'aretz - 28 Oct]:
MK Mussi Raz (Meretz) claims that billions of shekels slated for the settlements have been "concealed" in the budgets of the government ministries and offices. According to an analysis by Raz, state support for the settlements in the 2003 budget amounts to more than NIS 2 billion.
Raz also contends that in addition to the budget clauses he has uncovered, funds have been allocated to the settlements in other clauses. These are the main clauses through which the state is transferring money to the settlements:
l Israel Lands Administration - NIS 172.4 million to finance land expropriations in the Har Homa area.
l Transportation - According to Raz, roads under construction in the territories will cost the state some NIS 2 billion, of which NIS 253.5 million will come from the 2003 budget: the Trans-Samaria road - NIS 30 million, the Eastern Ring road - NIS 11.6 million, the Jerusalem-Ma'aleh Adumim road - NIS 34.9 million, the road joining Route 45 to Jerusalem - NIS 8.1 million, upgrading of Route 45 from Mishor Adumim - NIS 165 million, Route 20 joining Road No. 1 in Jerusalem to Hizme - NIS 3.9 million.
l Defense - Money for four bypass roads: the Zarta and Yabed bypass roads, the Keidar-Ma'aleh Adumim road, and the Nili-Ofarim road. Raz says that the bypass road budget totals NIS 228 million and will, in all likelihood, be spread over a number of years.
l Industry - An increase in the budget for grants for investments in the territories from NIS 21.5 million to NIS 22.2 million.
l Construction and Housing - Construction in Ma'aleh Adumim at a cost of NIS 21.2 million, plus NIS 27 million for the purpose of authorizations; perks for apartment buyers in the territories to the tune of NIS 300 million; some NIS 20 million in funding for a private security company for the settlers in Silwan, Ras al Amud and the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City.
l Agriculture - NIS 138 million to be transfered to the territories from the ministry's Settlement Division.
l Religious Affairs - NIS 50 million for the construction of synagogues and mikvehs.
l Education and Culture - More than NIS 30 million slated for free education from the age of 4, a 90-percent discount for 3-year-olds, and perks for teachers such as the payment of university fees, rent subsidies and travel expenses.
l National Infrastructures - NIS 9.7 million for water systems.
l Income Tax - Some NIS 500 million in tax breaks for territory residents; for example, a tax reduction of 8 percent for residents of Gaza and the Hebron Hills, and a 6-percent reduction in the remaining settlements.
l Local authorities - Government support of NIS 477 million.