The government on Sunday approved the new national priority list. A record number of 90 settlements were included in a list of more than 600 towns and communities eligible for state benefits, among them several new settlements once considered illegal. Beitar Illit, a large haredi settlement, was not on the list.
During the meeting, an argument broke out between Justice Minister Tzipi Livni
and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett. Livni asserted that "dangerous" communities should not be put on the list and Bennett replied, "It's lucky that the founders of Hanita (a kibbutz in the western Galilee) were not of the same opinion.
"Driving in Judea and Samaria is indeed dangerous but many things are dangerous. We should keep encouraging construction in Judea and Samaria."
The list passed the government vote without opposition, but four ministers abstained: Hatnua
's Livni and Amir Peretz and Yesh Atid
's Yael German and Yaakov Peri.
Settlement of Rechelim (Photo courtesy of lowshot.com)
"This is political, not national priority which goes against efforts to promote peace," Peretz said. "It's unacceptable that struggling cities like Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi are out of the list because they're close to the center while settlements that were illegal not so long ago are added under the security threat clause."
The State legalized the status of four settlements in the past year – Negohot and Sansana in south Mount Hebron
and Rechelim and Bruchin in the West Bank.
Bruchin (Photo: Dudi Vaknin)
Towns on the national priority list are eligible for various grants and receive aid in development schemes. However, funding for infrastructure and housing beyond the West Bank
requires a special decree by the prime minister, to avoid any diplomatic embarrassment.
Kiryat Malachi takes hits during Operation Pillar of Defense (Photo: Chabad Info)
Towns on the list will get government funding for 30% of the cost of hotels and other tourist
ventures, as well as reduced costs for housing and infrastructure and aid in culture and environmental projects. The State invests tens of millions of shekels in total.
Local authorities engage in heavy campaigning to get on the list which is determined by year of establishment, proximity to the periphery, and security hazard.
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