The Israeli cabinet approved a government budget, overnight, that gives a boost to settler priorities in the West Bank, drawing the ire of the opposition. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, the leader of the Religious Zionism party, defended the budget in comments to the Times of Israel, in which he turned reality on its head. “In the budget that’s being approved today, there is no funding for new construction in Judea and Samaria,” Smotrich said. Rather, “there is funding for security needs,” among them checkpoints and civilian security squads and the weapons and equipment those teams would need, he added.
“There are 2 million Nazis in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank], who hate us exactly as do the Nazis of Hamas-ISIS in Gaza,” he claimed, citing a Palestinian poll that indicated stronger support for Hamas’s October 7 terror attack in the West Bank than in Gaza.
Itamar Ben-Gvir’s National Security Ministry also got a big boost for purchasing equipment for police, civilian response teams, the prison service, and firefighters.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid slammed the cabinet’s decision to unfreeze hundreds of millions of shekels in funding for ultra-Orthodox and West Bank settler priorities instead of diverting the money to fund the war. “While you were sleeping the government passed a budget with coalition funds, that left irrelevant ministries and indulged in small-minded, mean-spirited politics instead of shifting the money to the fighters, those evacuated, and businesses that are collapsing. There is no shame,” he tweeted on X.