Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported on Tuesday that the Israeli government spent NIS 1.1 billion on illegal settlements in the West Bank in 2011, an increase of 38 % over the previous year.The article also asserts that an additional NIS 1.6 billion could be saved if government spending on settlers was the same as per capita spending for the rest of its citizens.

The head of the Israeli leftist organization Peace Now, Yariv Oppenheimer states, ‘If the government would just make per capita spending for residents of the settlements equal to spending for the rest of the country’s citizens, we would be able to cancel the widespread [budget] cuts and significantly reduce tax increases.’

This report fails to mention the illegality of all settlements in the West Bank as well as the widespread condemnation of settlements by every nation in the world outside of Israel in an attempt to normalize the occupation and frame the issue as one of economics rather than human rights.

There is international consensus that Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights constitute a violation of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention which states that ‘the Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.’ The primary judicial organ of the United Nations, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an advisory opinion condemning all settlements as illegal and the reconvened Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions did the same.