JERUSALEM — The Israeli Cabinet voted Sunday to pour millions in new funding into Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including hard-line communities that have put up fierce resistance to government-imposed construction restrictions.
The vote caused an uncharacteristic rift in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Cabinet, with centrist members accusing the Israeli leader of caving in to pressure from Israeli extremists.
Netanyahu announced his spending plan last week, saying it would grant funds for transportation, education and health care to distressed areas throughout the country. But the inclusion of some Jewish settlements, particularly isolated communities known for their hard-line populations, drew accusations that he is trying to buy off settlers who are furious over the new limits on construction in their communities.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, leader of the centrist Labor Party, said the spending plan gave disproportionate weight to the isolated settlements. Among them are Kiryat Arba and Kedumim, settlements deep in the West Bank where residents have harassed and blocked inspectors sent to enforce the moratorium.
In a separate development, Barak slapped an unprecedented penalty on an army-affiliated rabbinical school because its leader, a rabbi, urged his students to reject army orders to evacuate unauthorized settlements. He ordered the military to cut its ties with the school.