Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given orders for the allocation of $18.1 Million in expansion funds for 300 units of Beit El settlement, illegally built near Ramallah, according to Haaretz.Netanyahu ordered Finance Minister Yair Lapid to allocate this money to move an Israeli army base, while making room for the construction of 300 settlement units in Beit El.
Lapid has reportedly refused to do so, noting that the transfer of such a large amount of money needs to come with a cabinet’s vote.
WAFA further notes that Netanyahu has made this order pursuant to a secret deal, reached in 2012, with settlers evicted from Givat Ulpana settlement outpost, built illegally on private Palestinian land on the outskirts of Beit El settlement, in return for their cooperation in voluntarily evacuating the units that the Supreme Court had ordered to be demolished in 2012.
“Under the deal, temporary housing was set up for the 30 families who lost their homes, and the state approved construction of 30 new apartments for the use of the Beit El Yeshiva; the latter are currently being built. The government also agreed to plan and fund four public buildings in the settlement and to relocate a Border Police base from Beit El so that 300 housing units could be built in its stead,” stated the report by Haaretz.
For this end, the Israeli army base, which the Israeli government alleges is built on ‘state land’, would be moved across the road “to land previously seized for military purposes and on which an abandoned base now stands,” it said.
Netanyahu, who is “reluctant to bring the issue to the cabinet”, has instructed Lapid to do the transfer for “both diplomatic and political reasons”.
Additionally, Israeli Minister of Housing Uri Ariel said that the settlement expansion project was “on his desk”, and that he has demanded Netanyahu to order Lapid to fund the relocation of the base, which the latter refused to do.
Head of the Anti-wall and Settlement Commission, Ziad Abu Ein, stressed that this secret deal sabotages the prospect of a future Palestinian state.