TEL AVIV – Israel’s far-right finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, said Monday that he had halted funding for Palestinian communities and education programs in East Jerusalem. His critics accused him of being racist.
Smotrich said he was not apologizing for shifting the national government’s goals from the previous left-wing government. He said the money had gone to “criminals and terrorists.
Smotrich also took control of large areas of the West Bank formerly controlled by the Israeli military. Experts say this means Israel has formally taken control of the territory.
He has kept $85.5 million that was supposed to go to Palestinian villages. He is also withholding $53 million that was supposed to help young Palestinians prepare for school. Some of these children, he claims, are members of “Islamic extremist groups” in Israeli institutions and universities.
Smotrich is one of Israel’s most radical cabinet ministers. He is the head of an organization called Religious Zionism. He has previously stated that “there is no Palestinian people.
He also stated his desire to destroy the Palestinian village of Huwwara in the West Bank. He made this statement after two Israeli settlers were killed in the area in February.
Israeli soldiers have killed at least 208 Palestinians this year, including 36 children. About one person is killed every day.
Most of them were killed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. As a result, 2023 will be one of the most difficult years for Palestinians living under Israeli control. Another 36 people were killed in Gaza.
This year, Palestinians killed 26 Israelis, including six children.