Settlement construction. (Photo:B'tselem)
Last weekend a bill was passed giving a 35% tax break to organizations "strengthening Zionism and encouraging Zionist settlement." Though the legislation does not state the specifics of what constitutes a Zionist settlement, Haaretz’s Jonathan Lis finds, "in practice it most likely means giving assistance to organizations that promote settlement beyond the Green Line."
The sponsor’s of the bill state:
'In these days of constantly eroding values in general, particularly the values of Zionism and settlement, it is appropriate to return to these values their precedence and restore them to their proper place.'
Individual settlers already receive a number of government subsidies through the states "Investment Incentives and Benefits"[PDF] program. Listed as National Priorities Areas, these incentives include:
[I]n housing, by enabling settlers to purchase quality, inexpensive apartments, with an automatic grant of a subsidized mortgage; wide-ranging benefits in education, such as free education from age three, extended school days, free transportation to schools, and higher teachers' salaries; for industry and agriculture, by grants and subsidies, and indemnification for the taxes imposed on their produce by the European Union; in taxation, by imposing taxes significantly lower than in communities inside the Green Line, and by providing larger balancing grants to the settlements, to aid in covering deficits.
The new legislation differs from the existing benefits by offering tax breaks to organizations, or settlement community associations, rather than individuals; it's a small kick to help speed up and funnel Israelis into settlements.