US government offers tax breaks for Jewish settlers
Saed Bannoura - IMEMC
Thursday August 28, 2008
While US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been pressuring Israel to stop the expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, the US government has, at the same time, been offering tax breaks to US-based organizations who engage in settlement expansion.
This news comes from a report produced by Reuters news agency, which conducted an investigation of the tax records of 13 US-based non-profit organizations whose stated goal is to expand Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. The news agency found that these organizations have raised more than $35 million in the last five years alone.
When Reuters asked a State Department spokesman about the inconsistency, he stated that the tax breaks were in a different government department, and thus were not the concern of the Department of State. The spokesman added, "Regarding U.S. policy on settlements, it's clear, it's the right policy to try to help bring about a political settlement between Israel and the Palestinians."
As for the 'charities', they say their focus is on humanitarian concerns. But the money raised in the U.S. by the groups all goes to the development and expansion of the Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land in the West Bank, which Palestinians say are crippling every aspect of their lives.
Israel has never defined its borders since the state was created on historic Palestine in 1948, and Israeli immigrants have continually expanded the territory of the state with settlements, further encroaching onto what is left of Palestine, particularly in the 15 years since the Oslo Accords.
One of the groups, known as 'The Hebron Fund', encouraged donations to renovate a building in Hebron, in the southern West Bank, that was illegally occupied by Jewish settlers last year. The Fund advertised on their website, "Dozens of new families can now come live in Hebron -- only if we renovate this building quickly!"
The head of the Hebron Fund did acknowledge that this is in contradiction to current US policy in the region, but stated, "The U.S. government has no right to use political considerations when judging humanitarian and non-profit needs." But while settler groups in the US contend that their mission is somehow humanitarian, Palestinians describe the horrors of living under a military occupation that is in place to protect and expand the Israeli colonies, and say these US groups, and the US government, are complicit in their oppression.