US Nonprofits Fund Israeli Settlements in West Bank

Obama administration simultaneously fights construction
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2010 9:54 AM CDT
A Palestinian protester hurls a stone at Israeli troops, not seen, during a demonstration against the expansion of the nearby Jewish settlement, May 28, 2010.   (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
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(Newser) – When President Obama meets with Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House today, he’ll probably pressure the Israeli PM to stop illegal construction in the West Bank. But even as the administration fights those settlements, the US government is giving millions in tax breaks to groups that help build them, the New York Times reports. At least 40 US groups have collected more than $200 million in tax-exempt donations to use specifically for Israeli settlements.

Senior State Department officials call the donations “a problem,” saying they undermine administration policy. “It drove us crazy,” says a Bush-era ambassador to Israel. But “it was a thing you didn’t talk about in polite company.” Israel itself stopped offering such tax breaks in 1995. But in the US, paperwork requirements are so scant that groups pretty much do as they please; the Times found some with expenditures that looked suspiciously like illegal real estate purchases or political spending.

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