Some are More Equal than Others: A Public Survey on the Government´s Preferential Treatment of the Settlements

The settlements outside the Green Line have been enjoying larger government transfers for education and social services. What does the Israeli public think about this?

The occupation of Palestinian territories and desire to maintain control over them resulted in a large-scale national project: the settlements. The settlements received – and continue to receive – preferential treatment in a variety of areas, primarily in government transfers to municipal budgets. With this surplus funding, settlements are able to invest large amounts in local development compared with other groups of localities such as Jewish development towns within the Green Line and Arab localities.

An Adva Center study that tracked government transfers to municipal budgets, revealed that over the last two decades, despite some shifts in allocations, the highest budgets were consistently allotted to settlements. Surplus funding has included “designated” subsidies that cover the central government´s share in municipal education and social welfare budgets as well as ¨balance grants¨ offered primarily to underserved authorities.

Does the Israeli public approve of the government´s preferential treatment of the settlements? A survey conducted by Midgam on behalf of Adva Center and the Geneva Initiative found that the answer is no.

According to the survey, 63% of the Israeli public think that there is no justification for such a policy, compared with 25% who believe it is indeed warranted.

Even though higher rates of opposers come from the center and left of the political map (Blue-White, Labor/Meretz and the Joint List), many Right Wingers too think that surplus funding for education and welfare in the settlements is wrong.

The survey also found that 54% of respondents who voted for the Likud party in the last election oppose this policy, while only 28% support it. Among voters for the Israel Beitenu party, 64% were against this funding policy while 17% approved of it.
Surprisingly enough, even among the Yamina party voters 50% of respondents were against higher funding for the settlements compared with 40% who thought it justified.

* The survey was conducted by Midgam Institute in September 2020 among 504 respondents representing the adult population in Israel. Max sampling error: 4.3%