Agencies – An Israeli newspaper investigation says US donors have pumped more than $200 million into Jewish West Bank settlements in recent years.

The investigation published by the liberal daily Haaretz Monday says the money was funneled through some 50 non-profit organizations. The money funded anything from legal aid for extremist Jews to purchasing buildings and improving settlers’ quality of life.

The report says the tax-deductible status of the money means the US was “incentivizing” settlements, which Washington opposes and views as an obstacle to peace.

The Palestinians want the West Bank, along with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, as part of a future state.

Nearly 600,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 war.

The Palestinians and much of the international community view settlements as illegal and illegitimate. Over the weekend, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that continued settlement construction and other Israeli policies in the West Bank could endanger Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic state.

The Haaretz investigation found that some of the money sent by American donors has gone toward providing legal aid to extremist Jews through an Israeli group called Honenu.

The report also said some of the money was spent on paying the salary of settler leader Menachem Livni, an Israeli jailed in connection with his activities in a radical Jewish group that carried out attacks against Palestinians in the 1980s. The money has otherwise gone to acquiring buildings in the West Bank and east Jerusalem and improving the living conditions of Jewish settlers, the report said.

The report reviewed funds donated between 2009 and 2013, the latest year for which there is extensive data, the newspaper said.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday named national security adviser Yossi Cohen to head the Mossad spy agency. A former fighter pilot, Cohen, 54, will replace Tamir Pardo whose mandate expires in January.


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