The Israeli regime’s hawkish finance minister plans to allocate around $180 million to build illegal settlements and outposts on private Palestinian lands across the occupied territories.

Israeli media reports said on August 16 that the proposal by finance minister Bezalel Smotrich, a key member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right regime, was set to be put forward at the coming weekly cabinet meeting.

According to the Israeli broadcaster Kan, the money will come from the reduction of budgets at other ministries. The minister also announced that he will establish a team to ensure the funds will not be misused.

Outposts are usually built by Israeli settlers in the West Bank on private Palestinian lands without official authorization but with the regime’s support and financial assistance, and are often turned into official settlements.


Smotrich, who is notorious for making inflammatory statements against Palestinians, also claimed his plan will boost the economy and fight crime affecting Arab towns across the Israeli-occupied territories.

Smotrich’s plans have been strongly condemned after the minister suspended millions of dollars in funding to Arab towns and Palestinian education programs in the occupied East al-Quds.

Palestinians have called for a general strike next on August 21 to denounce the plans and protest against Smotrich’s withholding of funds. Some municipalities have said they may not open schools in September, in protest.

Arab citizens, most of whom are descendants of Palestinians make up about a fifth of the Israeli population.

The Arab minority has for decades faced social and economic disparities compared with Jewish citizens, including high poverty rates, overcrowded towns lacking in infrastructure, and poorly-funded schools.

Smotrich’s decision comes one month after Israel’s far-right regime announced plans to approve thousands of building permits for illegal settlements in the West Bank, despite pressure from the United States, the regime’s main backer, to halt settlement expansion.

Earlier this year, the U.S. State Department said that it was “deeply troubled” by Israeli moves aimed at expanding settlement construction.

Washington described the Israeli move to discuss thousands of housing units across the West Bank as an “obstacle to peace.”

Since coming to power in December, Netanyahu’s far-right coalition has approved the building of 7,000 new housing units.

Netanyahu’s cabinet has also amended laws that had previously prohibited settlers from returning to four settlements in the occupied West Bank that were evacuated in 2005: Homesh, Sa-Nur, Kadim and Ganim.

More than 700,000 Israelis live in about 280 settlements built across the occupied West Bank since Tel Aviv’s occupation of the territory in 1967.

The international community regards the settlements as illegal under international law and the Geneva Conventions given that they have been constructed on occupied land. (