The Knesset plenum on Wednesday approved in a preliminary reading a bill that would make communities in Judea and Samaria eligible for tax breaks based on the security threats they face.
The so-called “benefits map” approved by the Knesset in 2015 fixed standard criteria for awarding the benefits based on socio-economic criteria. The bill, sponsored by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) would add security risks to the criteria entitling Judea and Samaria communities to benefits.
The criteria would be based on Defense Ministry assessments of the security risks communities face in a manner similar to the way benefits are awarded to Israel’s border communities.
The explanatory notes accompanying the bill state that the tax breaks are meant to “encourage strong populations to reside in areas the state views as serving a national interest” and “add to the benefits map those communities in Judea and Samaria facing security threats.”
“Settlements in Judea and Samaria have for years stood up heroically against continuous terror inside the communities and on the roads. We need to encourage them with, among other things, tax benefits,” the bill’s preface reads.
Prior to the vote, MK Smotrich said, “This law will enable thousands of families living in Judea and Samaria, who suffer from security threats, to receive what they deserve and to be equal in rights to the rest of Israel’s residents. The national government is returning Judea and Samara to the settlement map. There’s a long way to go, but this is a step in the right direction.”
Meretz MK Esawi Frej said, “Have you heard of the Yotvata dairy farm? It should [learn from] Smotrich how to milk the state. You are milking the state using all kinds of improper methods. You [have the nerve] to take an additional 150 million shekel (about $40 million) for a few outposts.”
42 MKs supported the bill in its preliminary reading, and 36 opposed. The bill will now be sent to the House Committee, which will determine which committee will prepare it for its first reading.David Israel