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Yedioth Ahronoth: "Settlers Receive 70% More, Relative to their Size in the General Israeli Population"

An in-depth analysis was done by "Calculist", Yedioth Achronoth's Economic Supplement, and includes three articles:

Settlers Receive 70% More Relative to their Size in the General Israeli Population"

Residents of Hebron Hills Receive Five Times More than Ramle

All the Way from the Public's Pocket to Judea and Samaria

Settlers Receive 70% More Relative to their Size in the General Israeli Population

Calcalist (p. 6) by Shaul Amsterdamski - All of the five local authorities that top the list of per capita government investment are located beyond the Green Line. In 2010 the state invested NIS 1.018 billion in the 311,000 Jews who live in the settlements of Judea and Samaria. And that, it is important to note, only applies to the civilian expenditures and does not reflect any of the security investments or the huge investments that have been made in infrastructure in those areas.

   The settlements in Judea and Samaria receive extra budgeting because of their demographics and their geographical location. They are situated far apart from one another, have complex security needs, are home to many children and have a high percentage of new immigrants. All of those factors contribute to the extra budgets they receive, mainly from the Education Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the Welfare Ministry.

   The average investment per capita in Judea and Samaria stood at NIS 3,269 in 2010, which is 2.1 times the average investment per capita in central Israel, 2.2 times the investment per capita in the Jerusalem district, and 1.7 times the average investment per capita countrywide, which stands at NIS 1,947.

   Relative to their size in the population, the settlements in Judea and Samaria receive 70% more. They are 4% of the population who receive 7% of the budgets. For the sake of comparison, the Jerusalemites receive 25% less than their relative size in the general population, and the Tel Avivians receive 30% less.

   In the Hebron Hills Regional Council, which ranks first place in government investigation per capita, NIS 10,620 was invested per capita in 2010. That sum is 14 times the government investment in the resident of Yehud, 12.5 times the investment in the resident of Kiryat Bialik, nine times the investment in the resident of Carmiel and seven times the investment in the resident of Beer Sheva.

   The Jewish settlement in Hebron, which is home to just 500 Israelis, received NIS 4.7 million in 2010. That means that separate and apart from the enormous security costs that are underwritten by the government to protect the settlers in the city, an additional NIS 9,278 was invested in each individual settler. Most of the budget reaches them through the Interior Ministry in the form of grants to young settlements that are handed out to the settlements in Judea and Samaria. NIS 30 million were distributed to local authorities in Judea and Samaria by means of this grant, and they are the only local authorities to have received that grant.

Residents of Hebron Hills Receive Five Times More than Ramle

Calcalist (p. 4) by Shaul Amsterdamski -- The people in whom the government of Israel invests the most money per capita  of cities and towns are the residents of the Hebron Hills. Not Dimona, not Sderot, not Kiryat Shmona and not even Ashdod. The 6,000 residents of the Hebron Hills Regional Council, who live in 15 settlements, received NIS 63.7 million from the government in 2012, which is NIS 10,620 per capita. Four times the investment in any resident of Dimona, five times the investment in a resident of Arad, and eight times more than a resident of Jerusalem. The government's set of priorities are exposed in this study.

   The government grants approximately NIS 15 billion per year to the regional councils, and tries to give relatively more to those regional councils that cannot manage financially. The study shows that in many cases there are questionable distortions in this order of priorities. And even if there are established criteria in each field, in at least some of the cases they grant excessive priority to settlements beyond the Green Line.

   Therefore, for example, a resident of Kiryat Arba in 2010 received on average NIS 2,900 more than any resident of Dimona. Residents of Shoham received more than residents of Nahariya, residents of [the small town of] Kfar Tavor received more than residents of Beer Sheva and the residents of Tel Mond received more than residents of Yehud. A lot more.

   The weird set of priorities of the government in investing in the regional councils are the product of lack of a system, the lack of a body that looks at the entire budget pie and decides how to divide it, and a lack of clear and orderly criteria. Each government body separately funds the regional councils, for different purposes, and therefore also according to different criteria.

   This is the price of patchwork, the result of which the amount of money that a regional council receives is a function of its political power at any given time. That is the main reason that settlements beyond the Green Line receive more today.

   In general, more established communities, those communities whose residents pay income tax, municipal taxes and parking payments to the municipality, receive less from the government. As evidence of that, the two communities whose residents receive the least from the government are Savyon and Even Yehuda, which attract the people from the top tenth percentile.  That's logical.

   But that is where the logic ends. Because otherwise, can someone in the government explain why each one of the residents of Yehud, which is not exactly a financial power, receives NIS 14 less than a resident of [wealthy] Kfar Shmaryahu? Or why each resident of Elkana, an established settlement near Ariel, receives NIS 1,000 more than any Israeli resident of Jisser a-Zarka, a village suffering from unemployment and poverty. This odd set of priorities is not just limited to the gap between Jews and Arabs. It also applies in the Jewish population. For example, the government invests NIS 300 more per capita in Tel Mond than in each resident of Upper Nazareth, even though the average salary in Tel Mond is twice as high as the average salary in this northern city.

   In principle, the first place in the rating should have been the Abu Basma Regional Council in the Negev, which most of the public has probably never heard of. Abu Basma is a Bedouin regional council founded in 2004 following a cabinet  decision made by Ariel Sharon's government. According to the data of the Central Bureau of Statistics, 14.7 thousand people live in the eight towns of the regional council. Each one of these residents should therefore receive NIS 13,068 per year. But according to the website of the regional council, there are 80 thousand residents living in Abu Basma, so that the average government investment per capita plummets to NIS 2,133 a year, which puts it only in 164th place out of 253.

   Now all that is left for you is to find yourself on the rating, and understand where your tax money is going.

All the Way from the Public's Pocket to Judea and Samaria

Calcalist (p. 2) by Shaul Amsterdamski (news analysis) -- It happens each salary slip. After you look at how much money is going into your account, the next thing is to check how much income tax they took from you. Afterwards you curse quietly, maybe calm yourself that there is nothing to be done, everyone needs to lend a shoulder, remember that in Israel of 2012 that too is a sad joke, curse again and continue with your day. The slip is put into your bag, a mechanism of denial is put into its place and the bitterness is forgotten.

   However, if with each salary printout we were to receive a detailed list of what the government does with each taxpayer shekel, it is safe to assume that the bitterness would not disappear, but rather would make us bang our heads against the wall.

   So here, here is the money. In Elkana and not in Taibe. In the Hebron hills and not in Yeruham. In Immanuel and not in Petah Tikva. Other than the billions of shekels that flow to the defense budget and to supporting the yeshivas, kollels [yeshiva for married students] and ritual baths, the Calcalist study shows how the country chooses to invest in its residents using the budgets given to the regional councils and which residents it chooses to invest in.

   The conclusions of the study is that there is no inclusive government thinking determining who should get what. There is no law and no judge. Does your mayor happen to be a friend of the interior minister? Great. Did your councilor register party members for the transport minister? You're all set. Do you live beyond the Green Line? It seems that you've made the right choice.

   The government ministries  distribute the budgets however they want. The state comptroller already remarked on it, but the government doesn't care. Criteria are determined for no apparent reason, and grants of millions of shekels flow uninterrupted. The decisions as to what to do with the tax money are accepted on a political basis and this is legitimate. Some of the taxpayers are happy about this, others cry injustice. One way or another, the problem is that the government does not reveal to the public how its political set of priorities is implemented financially. The study we have conducted is an opportunity to learn what the socio-economic priorities of the current government are.

   Israel, like every other country, is supposed to provide services to its residents in return for its taxes. We never signed any social convention, but due to the fact that we all live in one country, we give our unwritten agreement to share the burden together and to receive something in return.

   We understand that whoever needs more should receive more, and whoever can provide for themselves will receive less. We understand this, but these gaps cannot be stretched forever. Enough with the piggishness. It can be claimed that those regional councils whose residents the government spends more on are those that cannot finance themselves. This claim is true, but it is only part of the distortion in the system.

   In 2010 the municipality of Modiin Illit, a Haredi city beyond the Green Line, gave exemptions and discounts in its municipal taxes to more than 50% of its residents. In Beitar Illit, another Haredi city in Judea and Samaria, the scope of the exemptions reached 47%. In Kiryat Arba 40% of the residents are eligible for an exemption. These councils do not actually try and support themselves, like Bnei Brak did when they established a commercial area from which they get most of their municipal taxes, and therefore the rest of the taxpayers need to carry the burden and make up the difference.

   At the end of the day, the Binyamin Regional Council receives more from the government than Sderot, Yeruham and Ofakim together. If the only consistency in the government's priorities is that the towns and cities in Judea and Samaria receive more, it means that the settlers know how to properly capitalize on their political power. The only way in which a real public debate can be held regarding what the government does with the tax money, is by making the data transparent and accessible. It's not just the fact that the public doesn't know where the money is going, much more worrisome is the fact that not one government figure sees the whole picture. Later, when there is no money for public housing or for any other purpose, it's because the money has already gone to different places.