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Anger Rises Over U.S. Tax Dollars for Settlements

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Anger has arisen in Palestinian areas over reports that millions of tax-exempt dollars from the U.S. are being funneled towards Israel's illegal settlement building in the Palestinian West Bank -- in flagrant violation of international law.

This is happening under the nose of the U.S. administration despite its claims of support for a two-state solution and criticism of Israel's continued settlement building.

But U.S. tax laws encourage citizens to support non-profit groups whose ideologies might diverge from official government policy as long as their missions are educational, religious or charitable. Religious groups have no obligation to divulge their finances, meaning settlements may be receiving sums that cannot be traced.

Direct donations to foreign charities are illegal but the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows donations to U.S. non-profit organisations which support charitable projects abroad. This is how many "clearing house companies" based in the U.S. are able to send the money to help finance and support the settlements.

The money has also financed items which might well be illegal under international law, such as guard dogs, bulletproof vests, rifle scopes and vehicles to secure outposts and settlements.

There are currently half a million Israeli settlers in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. All of the settlements are illegal under international law and are in violation of various UN resolutions.

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