Yesterday (4/2/24), the government approved the continuation of the indirect funding for farm outposts in the West Bank. Although pressure is mounting on Israel to prevent violence by settlers, and there is a risk of the evolvement of a third front in the West Bank, the government sees fit to persist in supporting farms, from which many of the violent attacks of settlers against Palestinians are coming.
On 19/11/2021, the previous government decided to allocate 20 million shekels annually for the years 2022, 2023, and 2024 for: “Support for volunteer groups operating in rural settlements engaging in significant agricultural activity in areas of National priority”. These funds finance the activities of associations that operate volunteers assisting agricultural farms in Israel and in the Occupied Territories. Examination of the implementation of this decision in recent years shows that a significant portion of the funds was directed towards activities in unauthorized outposts in the West Bank. Peace Now estimates that around 40% of the budget (about 8 million shekels per year) was allocated for outposts in the West Bank.
The decision on Sunday, 4/2/24, was a technical decision in its nature: the transfer of the budget from the Negev and Galilee Ministry to the Ministry of Agriculture. However, in the context of the extensive budget cuts, it is an approval that supporting illegal outposts is a top priority for the government.
It is important to note that about a month ago, the government decided on extensive cuts to the state budget and a broad cut of 15% in 24 governmental programs (most of the cut is in funds designated for programs in the Arab society in Israel), but specifically, the governmental program to support the farms did not undergo any cuts.