Americans for Peace Now’s Ori Nir describes a new Peace Now report on the preferential treatment still being doled out to Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Lately, Israeli right-wingers and their supporters here have been insisting that “the settlements are not the problem” and are a kind of minor detail in Israeli-Arab relations. Of course they are not the only obstacle to progress towards peace. But pretending they are not an obstacle of any kind is a bit like pretending that a fractured arm doesn’t hurt because you also have a fractured leg.
Yet even if you don’t want a two state solution, even if you don’t have the slightest concern for the plight of the Palestinians or the security implications of clinging to settlements or the moral costs of ruling over another people, even if you are an unabashed tribalist who only wants to ask “Is it good for the Jews?”, there is another problem. Hunger and homelessness are surging in Israel. Unmployment exceeds 11 percent and 1.3 million people live below the poverty line. The vast majority of those people live west of the Green Line. And yet, as Ori summarizes:
The new report shows that settlement local councils receive a much higher percentage of financial transfers from the government than the settlersâ€™ proportion in Israeli society and that per-capita gross investment in public construction in West Bank settlements (not including East Jerusalem) is more than triple the investment in public construction within the Green Line.
The analysis…shows that settlers who export goods to Europe receive millions of shekels to compensate for loss of tax discounts in the European Union, which does not recognize exports from as part of the Israeli-European free-trade agreement
The report shows how the government of Israel grants settlers a variety of benefits, even though most settlers need them less than the larger proportion of low-income Israelis who reside within the state of Israel….