The government dropped a planned discussion on an updated regional preferential benefits map. The discussion was called off after Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) demanded that the decision on which towns and cities would be eligible for special government benefits be reconsidered.
Cities and towns on the map are eligible for a wide variety of benefits, such as extra funding for schools and social services, government-backed mortgages at a more favorable rate than buyers could get at a bank, and a lower income tax rate for many residents.
Towns included in the map are usually located in the periphery of the country, and the updated map would have added 250 towns to the list of those getting the benefits – including 34 towns in Judea and Samaria that are not part of the major “settlement blocs.”
It was inclusion of these towns that Livni was most opposed to. During a discussion of anti-Semitism facing Jews around the world, Livni said that the world would condemn Israel if the map was approved because it “encouraged Israelis to move to the settlements.”
Taking Livni to task was Economics Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi), who said that Livni “was weakening Israel's standing in the world” with her stances.