JERUSALEM (Feb. 25)
The government’s concentration on the West Bank at the expense of Israel proper in the allocation of funds for settlement work came under sharp attack by an American Jewish leader here today and drew expressions of concern at a meeting of the Jewish Agency Board of Governor’s budget committee this morning.
Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) charged that the government’s order of settlement priorities was ” disadvantaging the nation. “In remarks prepared for delivery at a plenary session of the 21st Conference of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, the Reform movement, Schindler said the government is diverting virtually all of its settlement funds across the “green line.” “Is not the Galil important, and what of the Arava?” Schindler declared:
Schindler spoke after the surprise revelation at the conference that there was no budget earmarked to build homes at Yahel Bet, the second kibbutz of the Reform movement planned for the Arava district of the Negev. A building expansion program at Yahel, the first Reform kibbutz, has been suspended for lock of government building funds for the Arava region.
Schindler cited figures from the government’s settlement housing budget. Of 1250 new housing units planned, 1000 are in the Judaea and Samaria districts of the West Bank, 200 on the Golan Heights, “a sprinkling for the Galilee hill-top settlements and nothing at all for the Arava, “Schindler said. This is not discrimination against Progressive Judaism, Schindler said. “Progressive Judaism not disadvantaged, the entire nation is disadvantaged.”
NO FUNDS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE
The same problem was noted at the budget committee meeting where it was discovered that Jewish Agency funds earmarked for infrastructure work at settlements in Israel will not be spent because the government has earmarked the vast bulk of its available resources for settlements in the occupied territories. Without government funding of housing construction, the Jewish Agency cannot carry out its infrastructure work. The Agency does not operate outside of Israel. The settlement work in the territories is done by the World Zionist Organization’s settlement department, at the government’s behest, with government funds. Today’s meeting of the budget committee was in preparation for the Jewish Agency Board of Governor’s meeting which opens here later this week.