Bethlehem/PNN/ report By Madeeha Araj
The Israeli Knesset approved last week a $137 billion state budget that will perpetuate occupation and intensify illegal settlement construction in the West Bank, according to the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s National Bureau.
The Nablus based organisation took a close look at the allocation of state funds for 2019, which was approved by 62 members of the Israeli Knesset, and discovered that institutions directly overseeing the occupation received the largest boost from the state budget.
As much as a quarter of Israel’s total expenditure is already said to be channelled towards funding the army, internal security, occupation and settlements. These sectors will be given a further boost in next year’s budget as most of the increase from last year will be directed towards institutions maintaining the country’s occupation and illegal settlement construction.
Joint Arab List members of the Knesset denounced the budget saying that it “perpetuates the occupation, intensifies settlement, and deepens discrimination and prejudices Arab citizens”. They also feared that the new budget will widen the gap in the distribution of state funds between the country’s Jewish and Arab citizens. The Joint List members said the new budget “reveals the government’s extreme and racist policy”.
The security budget has been given a $6 billion boost from the previous year. But according to the National Bureau for Defending Land and Resisting Settlements, funds are directed to the various institutions of occupation and settlement construction through various channels. The total expenditure on the army, internal security, occupation and settlement, the bureau found, is close to a quarter of the total budget.
Israel’s intention to entrench the occupation further was also reflected in the budget with the approval of a 475 kilometre railway network that will connect illegal settlements with Israel while bypassing Palestinian towns and villages. The budget has approved the installation of new satellites and communications infrastructure in order to improve network coverage for half a million illegal settlers.
Funds for new roads bypassing Palestinian communities in Area C have been approved. The Jerusalem Governorate will get funds for the first section of a new ring road along with money to install new checkpoints in Essawiya in East Jerusalem. The Jewish only road will connect settlements to the north of Jerusalem with the east of Ramallah.
Settlement constructions already approved will receive funds to speed up construction while funds have been made available for thousands of new housing units on Palestinian land.