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BSST

BSST is the leading charity focusing on small-scale grass roots cross community, anti poverty and humanitarian projects in Israel/Palestine
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JfJfP comments


2016:

06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics

2015:

23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo

2014:

15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014

2013:

29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011

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Posts

Settlements and military absorb Israel’s budget


Constructing Pisgat Zeev, an urban settlement in a Jerusalem area annexed by Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War, Aug. 13, 2013. Will Likud supporters, observing state funds being poured in building blocks, think they have got value for their support? Photo by Baz Ratner / Reuters

Settlement funding: Likud betrays the poor

Over the years, the Likud Party has preferred to grant vast funds to settlements, instead of caring for the weak and poor sectors, which got it to power in the first place.

By Akiva Eldar, trans. Ruti Sinai, Al Monitor / Israel Pulse
January 26, 2015

The poll that aired on Jan. 24 on Israeli TV Channel 10, as well as internal polls presented to the heads of Israel’s parties, indicate that even if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kills Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah with his bare hands and is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Likud Party is far from being the certain winner of the coming elections. The Israeli voter is less preoccupied by security issues, the diplomatic situation or the question of governability than by his/her negative bank balance. In the survey conducted by professor Camil Fuchs for Channel 10, more than half of the respondents (53%) marked “cost of living and welfare” at the top of the agenda that will guide their choice at the ballot box on March 17.

In January 2013, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party hit the jackpot of Knesset seats with its understanding that “it’s the economy, stupid.” The slogan of Lapid’s previous election campaign, “Where’s the money?” has remained as relevant as it was then, perhaps more so, even after the short term he served the Israeli people from the Ministry of Finance. This question is also of interest to police officers of the Lahav 433 unit charged with investigating corruption, who are investigating suspected corruption in the Settlement Division of the Zionist Federation and in the Samaria local council in the West Bank. The police claim they have prima facie evidence of alleged fraudulent money transfers to the council’s coffers. This, of course, was carried out at the general public’s expense, including the millions of taxpayers who are far more troubled by their bank balances than by the demographic balance between Jews and Arabs in Israel and the nuclear balance in the Middle East.

Reflecting the heavy suspicions that a significant part of the money found its way to the pockets of elected officials, such as the head of the Samaria Council, Gershon Messika, and the arrests of senior members of the Yisrael Beitenu Party, coverage of the affair is being handled mainly by police-beat reporters. Journalists who cover settlement affairs have for years been reporting about the wholesale injustice in the allocation of money on the two sides of the Green Line. In the short time she has been serving in the Knesset, young lawmaker Stav Shaffir (Labour) has accomplished what party veterans have refrained from doing for decades: the heroine of the 2011 social justice protest put front and centre the issue of the link between the situation of the settlement enterprise and the situation of the typical, hard-pressed Israeli.


Labour MK Stav Shaffir who has objected to the transfer of 3.8 billion shekels ($1.1 billion) to the military budget as well as to transfer of state funds to settlements. Photo by Oliver Fitoussi

Fewer than 5% of Israel’s residents live in settlements, but get four times more funding than their share of the population: in construction, in tax and fees exemptions, in extra budgets for education, in public transportation and grants from the Ministry of Interior. Shaffir contends that they get at least an additional billion shekels ($250 million) annually from the state through a hidden slush fund, while the local councils and businesses in southern Israel have not even received full compensation for the war in Gaza. Shaffir’s publicized battle against the chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee and patron saint of the settlers, Nissan Slomiansky of the HaBayit HaYehudi Party, made front-page headlines revealing that the budget of the Settlement Division in the Zionist Federation (75% of which is funneled to the settlements) grew by almost 600% in 2014. The division is shielded from scrutiny despite that the state provides all of its budget.

It’s therefore clear why Netanyahu and HaBayit HaYehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett are doing all they can to divert the public’s attention from economic issues to the diplomacy-defence arena. But why aren’t the Zionist Camp leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni hitting the right wing hard with the ball of the settlement funds that Shaffir has served them with great talent?

Late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was the first and last Labour Party leader to draw a straight, thick line between the settlement enterprise, which supplies the needs of a small minority, and the welfare of most of the Israeli public — Jews and Arabs alike. His commitment to stop allocating massive funds to what he termed “political settlements” (known today as “isolated settlements”) was at the centre of Labour’s 1992 Knesset election campaign. And indeed, the Rabin government diverted a significant portion of the settlement budgets to the development of Jewish and Arab communities in the Negev and the Galilee. Rabin’s heirs at the post of Labour Party chair — Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Binyamin Ben Eliezer and Amir Peretz — joined governments that funnelled millions to the settlements at the height of the peace process, be it real or imagined.

Not only that, the issue of settlement funding is categorized as a battle of the “peace” ward; considered over the past few years by the Israeli mainstream as a closed-off ward in a psychiatric hospital. The right argues that the establishment of settlements beyond the Green Line is a Zionist mission of the first order and a barrier against the establishment of a Palestinian state. The left points to the damage caused by the settlement enterprise to Israel’s international standing and its security. It warns that the blurring of the Green Line will result in turning Israel into a binational state and hasten the end of the Zionist enterprise.


‘The creepiest thing about the HAROP – also called Harpy 2 – is that it can hurl itself at a target, setting off 50 lbs of onboard explosives in the process to make sure that it kills the target dead, while minimizing collateral damage.’ Lambert Varias in technabob.

The Likud Party has turned its back on the weaker sectors of society and on the residents of the periphery; those who brought it to power in 1977. Late Prime Minister Menachem Begin advanced during his mandate a comprehensive plan to rehabilitate impoverished neighbourhoods, and was careful to respect the law on both sides of the Green Line. Shamefully, the more its hold on rule got stronger, the more the Likud Party treated its traditional electorate rudely and dismissively.

Currently, politicians are hiding their narrow interests behind a cloak of devotion to “the land of Israel.” Thus, they are courting the masses of settlers who joined the party and took over its institutions. Still, perhaps this time around the weaker social sectors, those who handed Likud the government, will also be the ones to bring it down.

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