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Why it pays to be a settler in Israel

The 2015-2016 state budget reflects well the priorities of the Netanyahu government, with generous funding and allocations to the settlers and religious parties, while neglecting the periphery, the Arabs and Israel's secular heritage.
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Israel’s botanical gardens will face millions of shekels in budgetary cuts. While this may seem like a fairly insignificant detail of the 2015-2016 state budget, which was approved by the Knesset on Nov. 19, it offers a glimpse into this government’s civic priorities.

Earlier this week, the staff of the botanical gardens and students from various faculties of agriculture across the country tried to prevent the decree, but the cut — from 4.5 million shekels (about $1.6 million) to just 100,000 shekels (some $26,000) per year — could deal a death blow to the gardens, which are heritage sites in every sense of the term. Yet despite their symbolic importance, they were pushed to the margins of the public debate. And so, while HaBayit HaYehudi, the party of Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, responsible for the botanical gardens, celebrated one achievement after the other in the Knesset’s Finance Committee concerning funds allocated to the settlements, there was no one to actually fight on behalf of the country’s botanical gardens, a symbol of sanity and normalcy of a country able to protect its historic flora.

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