The Knesset`s Special Committee for the Transparency and Accessibility of Government Information, headed by MK Stav Shafir (Zionist Camp), discussed on Monday the sources that are funding the ”price tag” policy.
”Price tag” is the term used to describe acts of violence and or vandalism committed by Jewish extremists against Palestinians to protest Israeli government and security policies in the West Bank.
At the opening of the meeting, Shafir attacked the local councils and the settler committees which are funded by them. ”Their absence from the meeting borders on admission of guilt. This is a spit in the face of the Knesset, and it is unacceptable that they are not willing to account for their use of state funds to undermine it and undermine the rule of law while harming IDF soldiers.”
The committee chair added: ”The fact that the authorities and the government ministries are turning a blind eye is simply disgraceful. On the one hand, ministers condemn, but then those same ministers transfer money to the organizations that set up the infrastructure for Jewish terrorism and attacks on soldiers. I can say with certainty that most Israelis would not agree to have this money come out of their pockets.”
MK Shafir during a committee meeting (archives)
”The Interior Ministry has transferred millions to the Binyamin and Shomron local councils, which then transferred the money to settler committee organizations. These organizations then said `if you are violent and inconsiderate and bring the regime to its knees, you will succeed`. And the heads of these organizations announced that they are permitted to `carry out acts that elements within the government or the establishment object to; acts that the local councils in Judea and Samaria are afraid to carry out for obvious reasons. Some of these acts are in the grey area`. These acts are meant to openly harm the IDF`s activity, bases and the soldiers themselves. Later they led to attacks on Palestinian civilians.”
”At the same time, government offices are funding the activity of institutions in illegal outposts – educational institutions and infrastructure. The Tax Authority is giving tax breaks and benefits to organizations that lied to the authorities about their activities and transferred grants to the families of convicted criminals. When the state funds illegal activity it sends the public a message that everything is permissible; that there is no law. Open your eyes – how is it that the state is undermining itself?” Shafir stated.
Superintendent Yaron Binyamin of the police investigations division told the MKs that the police have made it a top priority to combat ”nationalistic crime”, but added that ”these offenses do not require many resources – cans of gasoline or graffiti – although they cause much damage, they do not require a source of funding to finance such activity.” Binyamin said police have yet to find a source that directly funds ”price tag” acts.
MK Oren Hazan (Likud), who was eventually ejected from the meeting after he had repeatedly interrupted the speakers, said the discussion was ”shaming an entire public,” while MK Omer Barlev (Zionist Camp) asked representatives of the Education Ministry if they believe it is educational to hold activities in illegal outposts.
Turning to the Education Ministry representatives, MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) said: ”When you receive a request for [financial] support, you vet the association, its people and its activity. If it turns out that some of the funds are transferred to other things that were not [mentioned in the request], does that not justify an examination on your part?”
In response, Attorney Miriam Grazi of the Education Ministry`s Traditional Religious Institutions Division said ”If we will find out that we gave money for one activity and it went to another, even legally, then this is certainly improper. In such a situation, we will take measures against these institutions.”
Yossi Saidov of the Tag Meir anti-racism organization said ”there are people who are watering and growing the price tag phenomenon, and these are the rabbis who incite.”
Chairwoman Shafir concluded the meeting by saying ”history will judge us for turning a blind eye.”