The World Zionist Organisation (WZO) used Israeli public funds to finance construction in an unauthorised settler outpost in the occupied West Bank, an investigation by Haaretz has revealed.
According to the report, the WZO's Settlement Division "transferred public funds as loans to at least two settlers from the West Bank settlement of Itamar", in exchange for which "the settlers mortgaged plots that had been allocated to them".
Official maps, however, "show that the ostensibly mortgaged plots simply don't exist".
As explained by Haaretz, the Settlement Division is a private body that acts under the WZO, "but is wholly financed by Israeli public funds", and "acts as a government agent in assigning land to Jewish settlers in the West Bank".
The settlers in question live on a hill known as "Meshek Alumot", "where they operate a dairy and hatchery and sell cheeses, yogurt and eggs". The site is an illegal outpost according to Israeli law, and demolition orders have been issued but never implemented.
According to Haaretz, the WZO's Settlement Division "has practiced this method for setting up illegal outposts before".
"In 2011 a couple received a loan from the division in exchange for mortgaging plot 403 in Itamar, to purchase some 100 sheep. In 2012 they mortgaged the same plot again, with the addition of 50 sheep. In 2014 they bought 10 cows and mortgaged plot 403 again."
Yet "no such plot currently exists today" in Israeli occupation authorities' maps.