Israel to Divert Military Budget to Settlement Expansion

US Military Aid Being Redirected to Illegal Settlement Construction

Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon have announced they will divert some $18 million from the nation’s military budget, which includes money provided as direct military aid from the United States and others, to settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank.

Netanyahu had promised to provide the money to construction 300 more homes in Beit El settlement after the 2012 court decision to demolish 5 apartment buildings built illegally on privately owned Palestinian land.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid had blocked such moves, but was expelled from the government when the coalition collapsed. The money will be sent to the Housing Ministry to pay for the expansions.

The military seized Palestinian land in 1970 for a military outpost, which was later given to the settlers as Beit El, a temporary settlement back in 1977, which was later declared permanent.

Beit El is an extremely complicated settlement legally, as only a small portion is built on state land, with most on illegally appropriated Palestinian land still under title to Palestinian owners. The settlement is non-contiguous, and more Palestinian land is barred from its owners to allow settlers to travel conveniently around it.

The US provides billions of dollars in direct military aid annually, including both cash and weaponry. That money goes into the general military budget, which is where the funding for the settlement is coming from.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.