Inicio NOTICIAS Finance Committee approves bill boosting settler business and hotels

Finance Committee approves bill boosting settler business and hotels

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Itongadol.- The Finance Committee on Monday approved a bill that would boost settlement business and make it easier to construct hotels and field schools in Gush Etzion and other West Bank areas outside of Jerusalem.

The Encouragement of Capital Investment legislation has already passed the Knesset in a first reading and returns to the Knesset for a second and third reading before it becomes law.

But right wing lawmakers and settlers already celebrated its passage on Monday, grateful that it now granted them the same tax breaks and incentives that business receive for projects within the Green Line. This includes tourism and hotel projects in the area of the West Bank just outside of Jerusalem.

There are no hotels in Judea and Samaria, but there eis an active industry of field schools and small cottages for rent, known as Tzimmers.

The head of the Gush Etzion Field School Yaron Rosenthal called it an “historic amendment” as he explained that it would give a 20% return to owners of tourism and hotel projects as well as event halls. In the past, settlers business owners could not benefit from those tax breaks, because the law that granted such incentives did not apply to Judea and Samaria. This new legislation amends the existing law to allow for settlers business owners to receive the same financial incentives as their peers living inside the Green Line.

Meretz party head MK Zahava Gal-On attacked the passage of the legislation, which she said, was tantamount to “creeping annexation” because it was the application of an Israeli law onto the West Bank, which is under Israeli military and civilian rule.
Industrial zones in Area C of the West Bank will now have the same legal status as those within the Green Line, she said.

“This gives a stamp of authenticity to the annexation of Judea and Samaria,” she said.

Gal-On added that it was also another example of disproportionate government expenditure for settlers and settlements, who already receive more than their fair share of tax-payers funds.

The Education Ministry provides twice as much funding to educate a child over the Green Line, than it does within it, Gal-On said.

MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) said he supported the rights of Israeli citizens to benefit from the Capital Invent Encouragement Law, but that they should do so by investing in factories inside the Green Line or by transferring their businesses there.

“What is happening here essentially is that the government is giving money to business that will produce products, that will later be boycotted in Europe, so what have we achieved exactly?” he asked.

It as if, “one hand does not know what the other hand is doing” in this government, he said as he charged that Israel was operating under “the most right wing government in its history.”

“I oppose this law,” he said. Levy added that if this was the general direction the government was going, it might as well just annex Judea and Samaria, a move which would eliminate any legal issues on any mater.

MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) who supports the bill, said, that since the residents of Jude and Samaria already paid taxes, they should also receive the same financial benefits as other tax payers.

Justice Ministry representative Edna Harrel defend the Finance Committee and said the legislation had not contributed to the creeping annexation of Judea and Samaria nor had they provided its citizens with extra benefits.

It simply allows the government to address a situation of inequality and allow Israeli citizens living on both sides of the Green Line to receive the same tax benefits.

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