JERUSALEM - The Israeli Cabinet voted yesterday to pour millions of dollars of new funding into Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including several hard-line communities that have put up fierce resistance to government-imposed construction restrictions.
The vote caused an uncharacteristic rift in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet, with centrist members accusing the Israeli leader of caving in to pressure from Israeli extremists.
Netanyahu announced his spending plan last week, saying it would grant funds for transportation, education and health care to distressed areas throughout the country. But the inclusion of some Jewish settlements, particularly isolated communities known for their hard-line populations, drew accusations that he is trying to buy off settlers who are furious over the new limits on construction.
No exact figure has been given for the proposed spending, but a government spokesman, Mark Regev, said it is likely to be in the millions of dollars.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, leader of the centrist Labor Party, said the plan gave disproportionate weight to the isolated settlements. Among them are Kiryat Arba and Kedumim, settlements deep in the West Bank where residents have harassed and blocked inspectors sent to enforce the building moratorium.