Jewish community to be destroyed, says Israeli defense minister

Ra’am celebrates huge budget transfer for the Arab sector, but the defense minister commits to taking down the yeshiva in Samaria.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Ra’am party celebrated Tuesday the authorization of over 700 million shekels to the Arab sector, the majority of which will go towards construction, while the Homesh community in Samaria was again threatened with destruction this week.

Some 400 million shekels that had already been approved for planning, construction and infrastructure improvement in Arab towns was newly padded with an additional 75 million shekels, the party announced. The extra money will go to expedite the approval of master plans and speed up construction, it said.

The rest of the disbursement authorized by the Knesset Finance Committee Tuesday includes 200 million shekels for regional Arab authorities in general and tens of millions to combat poverty and violence and support Arab Israeli youth.

The funds, budgeted in the coalition agreement, had been held up when the Islamist party suspended its participation in the coalition over police clashes with Palestinian rioters on the Temple Mount last month. It then returned amidst allegations that more money had been promised to the Arab sector in exchange for stabilizing the government.

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Meanwhile, Defense Minister Benny Gantz told his party in a faction meeting Monday that the community of Homesh would be evacuated since “Israeli law requires it.”

It is currently illegal to rebuild the settlements that were demolished during the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza. The Knesset is set to vote Wednesday to repeal the law with regard to the four villages in Samaria, including Homesh, that were destroyed along with the Jewish communities of Gush Katif in Gaza. The private members’ bill was coauthored by two Likud MKs, Yuli Edelstein and Miki Zohar.

Gantz gave no timeline for the implementation of his decision.

Homesh, now mainly consisting of a yeshiva for Talmud students that was reestablished soon after the disengagement, bhas been taken down numerous times since. The High Court has ruled that much of the village is sitting on private Palestinian land.

The drive to preserve the yeshiva gained momentum after the December murder of one of its students, Yehuda Dimentman, a married father of a toddler.

The issue is thus a contentious one within the coalition, where parties from the right and the left sit together uneasily.

“We are doing everything we can” to prevent the evacuation, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said Wednesday at a conference. “The continued activity of the yeshiva there is symbolic and meaningful. [It] has been evacuated many times. We need to put an end to that and allow the students there to study.”