Knesset passes controversial settlement bill

Law offers 35% tax break on donations to NGOs that support settlement on both sides of the Green Line.


The Knesset on Monday evening approved a law that offers a 35-percent tax break on donations to NGOs that encourage settlement anywhere in the country, including in Judea and Samaria.

The legislation passed a final reading in the plenum by 33 to 13, after a brief debate.

Palestinian laborer in Kedar - Photo: Ammar Awad/Reuters

Palestinian laborer in Kedar - Photo: Ammar Awad/Reuters

Its opponents say the bill was designed to direct tax breaks to those who support West Bank settlements.

One of the measure’s sponsors, coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), previously argued that the bill was conceived to help the Negev and the Galilee, but the language was then expanded so that it was applicable to all Israeli communities.

Initially, the bill’s language spoke of “Zionist” settlements, but the word has since been struck, so that non-Jewish Israeli communities can also receive the tax breaks.

In a meeting earlier this month, Knesset Finance Committee chairman Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) reported that he had received a letter from legal expert Frances Raday, who had advised him that tax-breaks that include West Bank settlements are illegal under international law.

On Monday, Gafni spoke in support of the bill, which had said had very broad implications that included welfare and education.

This measure, he said, bears no relationship to the politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

MK Dov Henin (Hadash), however, urged the parliamentarians not to be fooled. The bill’s true intent was to create a new funding mechanism for West Bank settlements, he said.

Israel’s settlement policy is designed to create facts on the ground that would prevent a two-state solution, he said.

“If we seek a just peace for both nations, we should oppose it (the bill),” Henin said.


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