A recently released report by the Israeli Research Institute for Economic and Social Affairs, an independent body, estimated that the Israeli government has spent over $14 billion since 1967 to build illegal settlements in the Palestinian West Bank.
Roby Nathanson, the Institute’s director, said the study had to resort to using retroactive cost estimates and aerial photography, due to a lack of cooperation from the Israeli government to provide official figures. However, the $14 billion estimate concurs with several earlier studies, including a 2003 study by Israeli newspaper Haaretz determining that $10.1 billion had been spent up to that date.
An exact figure for how much money has been spent on the settlements since Israel ‘captured’ the West Bank in 1967 has been nearly impossible to obtain, since settlement spending is spread throughout numerous areas of the budget and not identified as specific ‘settlement funding’.
The study concludes that "the value of the buildings constructed in the West Bank, in current values effective June 2005 and based on calculations of cost only, equals about $14 billion." This amount does not take into account expenditures on education, welfare and social services. The main expenditures, according to the new study, were $9b. for housing, $1.6b. for roads, and $1.8b. for public institutions and schools.
Among the findings, the report determined that the Israeli government contributes twice as much proportionally to settlement budgets as it does to local budgets inside Israel.
250,000 Israeli settlers are currently living within the Palestinian West Bank, a number which increased by 12,000 in 2005. Despite last year’s ‘disengagement’ from the Palestinian Gaza Strip, in which 9,000 Israeli settlers were removed in a highly-publicized campaign, the total number of settlers on Palestinian land increased by 12,000 over the year.