Researched by Kerry Headley and Natalie Dale
While the US government has on numerous occasions affirmed the illegality of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, it encourages American citizens to support Israeli settlers by providing tax deductions for donations to these settlements, which have nearly doubled within a year. A report issued by Peace Now stated that the construction acceleration is eliminating the Green Line that separates Israel and Palestinian territories and creating a geographical contiguity between the Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, which means more isolation and separation between Palestinian cities and villages and undermines the possibility of a peace agreement. Palestinian and Israeli critics say the exemptions are contrary to the stated US foreign policy and international law. An audit conducted by Reuters of American tax records found that 13 tax exempt groups linked explicitly to settlements managed to collect more than $35 million in the past five years alone. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice defended the tax incentives as “humanitarian” and rejected any comparison with Palestinian charities facing US sanctions for suspected links with Islamic parties such as Hamas.
“Peace Now: West Bank Settlement Construction Nearly Doubled This Year” Nadav Shragai, Haaretz, 8/26/2008 http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/08/26-12
“Peace Now: ‘Israel is currently constructing 2600 settlement units in the W. Bank’” Saed Bannoura, IMEMC News, 8/26/2008 http://www.imemc.org/article/56720
“US Tax Breaks Support Israeli Settlers” PNN, 8/26/2008 http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3423&Itemid=1