[THIS MONEY WOULD BE BETTER SPENT ON EVACUATING ARABS.]
The evacuation of isolated West Bank Jewish communities outside of the settlement blocs could cost the government more than NIS 250 billion, the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip said on Monday.
It released this figure amid renewed United States efforts to revive direct negotiations for a two-state solution. Any final-status agreement achieved through negotiations would likely involve the evacuation of isolated West Bank settlements.
But the figure itself was part of a detailed response to a Peace Now YouTube video released last week, which urged Finance Minister Yair Lapid to cut spending for West Bank settlements.
The animated video called “Lapid, here’s the money,” reminded the finance minister of his statements prior to the elections, when he said that Netanyahu, at the expense of the middle class taxpayer, had increased West Bank settlement spending by 38 percent since taking office in March 2009.
The video noted places of extra settlement spending that Peace Now already publicized in a report released last year, in which it said that the government spent NIS 1.6 billion annually on West Bank settlements, above and beyond what it spent on citizens within the pre-1967 lines.
To arrive at this figure, it used data from the 2010, 2011 and 2012 budgets.
Peace Now included 2012 figures of NIS 65.8 million to relocate settlers from the Migron outpost that was demolished, as well as NIS 21.8 million to relocate 30 families from the Ulpana outpost. It also added in NIS 50 million for Ariel University.
The Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip shot back that the NIS 87.6 million for Migron and the Ulpana outposts was spent to appease left-wing groups who had petitioned the High Court of Justice against the outposts, simply to promote a political agenda.
After such wasteful spending, there is nothing more infuriating than Peace Now thinking it can make suggestions to Lapid about ways to save money, the council said.
Since the 1993 Oslo Accord, NIS 52 billion had been wasted by the government in dealing with the impact of failed left-wing policies, including the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza and terror attacks, the council said.
It included in this figure funds to protect communities along Israel’s southern border from Palestinian-launched rockets from Gaza, as well as the cost of the 2005 Gaza withdrawal.
Hagit Ofran of Peace Now said that the council’s argument was illogical.
The High Court of Justice rulings in favor of evacuating the outposts, were not “decrees from heaven,” she said, but rather a response to illegal settler activity.
Her organization, Ofran said, is not responsible for everything that has happened to Israel in the last 20 years since the Oslo Accords.
However, she noted, that had a final status agreement emerged from the Oslo Peace Process, Israel would have withdrawn from the West Bank years ago and been at peace with the Palestinians, she said.