Photo: Ilan Arad,
West Bank settlements will receive hundreds of millions of shekels in last minute funding.
Photo: Ilan Arad,

MKs outraged at last minute funding to settlements

Funds cut from southern Israeli communities and welfare programs; opposition members erupt in shouts, kicked out of Finance Committee meeting.

What was most likely to be the last Knesset Finance Committee meeting Monday before the upcoming elections ended in shouting and MKs being ushered out of the room after the committee approved a last minute change in funding which would transfer hundreds of millions of shekels to West Bank settlements instead of to communities in southern Israel and social welfare programs.



Opposition members from Yesh Atid and Labor called the last minute change a grab schemed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to funnel funds into an electoral community that would likely support him and his right-wing allies in the upcoming election.


West Bank Settlement. (Photo: Ilan Arad/ (Photo: Ilan Arad/
West Bank Settlement. (Photo: Ilan Arad/


The committee members decided to approve NIS 211 million for West Bank settlements in addition to NIS 3.77 million that would be transferred to the security infrastructure, from which NIS 2.5 million was cut from social welfare and other offices.


Several members from Yesh Atid came to the meeting in the hopes they would be able to prevent the approval of the funds but almost all of Netanyahu's allies arrived at the meeting to make sure the funding passed.


MK Stav Shaffir (Labor) sharply criticized the chairman of the Finance Committee, MK Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi), and was eventually removed from the meeting for yelling at him.


MK Stav Shaffr (right) and Finance Committee Chairman Nissan Slomiansky. (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg) (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
MK Stav Shaffr (right) and Finance Committee Chairman Nissan Slomiansky. (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)


"What you are doing is a political crime that you are not even trying to clean up," Shaffir yelled.


"You are taking advantage of the last day of the Knesset in order to transfer money to your voters in the primaries while the funds and aid to the southern communities are frozen and not moving along. Instead of transferring funds to the south, Slomiansky finds the settlements to be urgent on the last day of the Knesset. The Israeli public does not interest him," said Shaffir.


Ushers escorted Shaffir out of the meeting while other members continued to direct their criticism at Slomiansky.


MK Dov Khenin was also kicked out of the meeting after he was prevented from asking questions.


"It's a disgrace that even on the last day of the Knesset, the government is trying to use upper handed opportunism to transfer millions to the settlements without allowing any discussion or questions, working against Knesset regulations," said Khenin.


Yesh Atid chairman Ofer Shelah said, "Just like he led the nation to unnecessary elections to satisfy his partners in the radical right-wing and the Orthodox factions, the prime minister is trying to transfer hundreds of millions to the settlements in a pathetic act of opportunism, in contempt of Knesset procedures and legal advice. The true face of the Netanyahu coalition, the settlers, and the Haredim is being fully exposed even before this Knesset has been disbanded.


"This is election bribery. These are transfers that arrive at the dead of night in a deceptive and manipulative way with their only purpose being a political fund for the prime minister's friends in the Yesha Council. This is an inappropriate move for a democratic state and we will ask the legal advisor to the Knesset to check the legality of these funding transfers this morning. The prime minister cannot turn the Finance Ministry into a personal elections slush fund."


MK Erel Margalit (Labor), head of the opposition in the Finance Committee, added: "Netanyahu is trying to make a last-minute grab for the settlements before the elections. The sense of revulsion towards the right wing government has crossed a boundary. We will put an end to this. The government has created a social conflict which is no less urgent than the security conflict, and it will explode in their face in the coming election."


"This funds transfer harms mothers who want to send their kids to dormitories today, youth that are forced to hitchhike instead of safely using public transportation and entire populations in the periphery who desperately want to integrate into the labor market," continued Margalit.


The last minute funding change came hours before the vote to disband the Knesset. If passed, it will put the Knesset in recess, freezing all legislation.


פרסום ראשון: 12.08.14, 17:34
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