Contributor
Yonatan Levi
Research Fellow
18.02.2014 analysis by Yonatan Levi
The illegal outpost of Elisha and the adjacent settlement, Chalamish
The illegal outpost of Elisha and the adjacent settlement, Chalamish    

Education in illegal outposts: Taxpayer money funds lawbreaking

A backgrounder for the Knesset discussion of the pre-army academy of Elisha, which is located in an illegal outpost yet has been recognized and funded by the Ministries of Defense and Education since the early 2000s

 


Since the early 2000s, the illegal outpost Tzofit-Elisha has housed a pre-military academy (Mechina) by the same name (“Elisha”), which is state recognized and funded. Despite the fact its activity clearly violates the Ministry of Education's planning and building regulations and despite the fact that its location sends an exceptionally problematic message to the young people being educated there, the academy has received millions of shekels from the public purse. And it is not alone: tens of other educational institutions that are regularly funded by Israeli taxpayers operate in illegal outposts. In effect, Israeli citizens are paying tens of millions of shekels every year for the organized violation of the law. 

  • The pre-military academy Elisha was established in the Jericho area, and in 1999 it moved to the illegal outpost "Tzofit-Elisha". The outpost is a satellite of the settlement Neve Tzuf-Halamish, which is under the jurisdiction of the Binyamin Regional Council.
  • Initially, the academy provided one military track for young men and another track alongside it for religious men who wanted to join the ranks of the Israeli Police. Approximately a year ago, in the wake of a decision by the Police Legal Counsel, the academy's police building was moved from the illegal outpost back inside the Green Line.1
  • Like all other pre-military academies, Elisha is officially recognized by the Defense and Education Ministries, and receives a flow of taxpayer funds from the Ministry of Education.2 According to information made public by Channel 2, the budget allocated to Elisha by the government stands at over NIS 1 million per year.3 Public funds were also used to establish the academy and acquire its buildings at a cost of NIS 1,450,000, a sum that was budgeted for the project by the Ministry of Housing and Construction.4
  • Public money is flowing to Elisha despite the fact that it is located in an illegal outpost. Its budget is the result of government officials continuously turning a blind eye; the Ministry of Education has clear regulations in place which detail how the activities of pre-military academies are to be monitored.5 Under article 10 of these regulations, the Ministry must ensure that pre-military academies are built in accordance with the laws of planning and construction. It also requires an appraisal bythe local planning and construction committee responsible for the area.
  • Not only is this educational institution situated in an illegal outpost, whose very existence is in direct violation of the law, it unabashedly highlights this fact. In a promotional video, the academy displays with pride the eviction order the outpost received, and ends the clip with the pronouncement: "despite it all, we got here".6 The religious news website "Kippa" explicitly states that "in addition to being an educational institution whose students successfully reach the highest ranks of the IDF, the academy establishes a continuum of settlement between the Ateret settlement and the Neve Tzuf settlement, thus strengthening the Jewish hold on the region."7 Even the official website of the Ministry of Education openly admits the criminal nature of the pre-military academy, calling it an "outpost".

For a the Hebrew version of this backgrounder which includes a list of other pubically funded instutions in illelgal outposts, click here
 

[1] Kubovich, Yaniv. “Police to evacuate pre-military preparatory program operating in an illegal outpost”, Haaretz [Hebrew], 30.03.2010, available at http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/politics/1.1675611

 

[2] The "Mechina" Law of 2008 states that the academies will be budged via the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Defense. Provision of the Ministry of Defense No. 59.27: "Pre-military Academies: Objectives, Recognition, and Assistance" outlines the division of power between the two ministries for monitoring the programs.

 

[3] Ohad, Hemo. “Why is the State Financing an Illegal Outpost?” Channel 2 [Hebrew], 17.12.13, available at http://www.mako.co.il/news-channel2/Channel-2-Newscast/Article-aa31b1ebbc10341004.htm

 

[4] These data come from a report on illegal outposts written by Talia Sasson and adopted by the Ministry of Defense and approved by the Israeli government. Available here: http://tinyurl.com/oly644g

 

[5] From "Regulation of Pre-Military Academies” (recognition of pre-military academies), 2009.


[6] The academy’s promotional video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3dUA2tbVeg

 

[7] "The March of the Pre-Military Combat Academies of the National Religious Public," Kippa [Hebrew], 09.05.2011, available at http://www.kipa.co.il/now/44915.html

 
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