(JTA)— Israel’s Knesset passed a controversial law that requires greater transparency from the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division, but which opponents claim will funnel money to illegal settlements in the West Bank.
The bill, sponsored by Jewish Home member Bezalel Smotrich, was approved by a vote of 53-48 and signed into law Thursday, the Times of Israel reported
The law recognizes the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division as a government arm and authorizes it to fund and assist rural Jewish communities in both Israel proper and the West Bank.
“Today, it was clarified that despite perceptions among Israel’s left, which rejects outright the idea of settlements, Zionism has won,” Smotrich said, according to the Times of Israel “During the struggle of the last few months, the forces in the Knesset that have tired of Zionism came together to bring down this law. Today, despite that, Zionism has won.”
In a Knesset discussion before the vote, Yair Lapid, said Jewish extremists, such as those seen in a recently released video celebrating the murder of Palestinians, were “born in the same outposts that this bill is trying to fund.”
Lapid said the law benefits “illegal outposts” and “all the places where the [Settlement] Division is not building but is trying to establish a political reality.”
Tzipi Livni, of the Zionist Union, said the bill “is designed to deceive America,”by “giving the Settlement Division authority but not responsibility,” according to the Jerusalem Post.
“I would accept this bill if one sentence was added – that everything that applies to the government also applies to the Settlement Division – but, of course, [the coalition] didn’t accept it.”