American Prospect Online - Uncle Sam Will Pay: "Relocating the settlers, according to media guesstimates, could cost from $10 billion to $50 billion. Olmert has already told The Wall Street Journal that he'll ask for American assistance.
At first glance, the expected request will set a record for chutzpah. For years, Israel has ignored American protests against settling on occupied land -- and now it wants American cash to undo the damage? A flat no would be understandable. But it would be smarter to provide funds, with some tough conditions.
It�s true that the United States opposed settling Israelis in the West Bank from the moment the first settlement was announced, just a few months after Israel occupied that territory in 1967. The next spring, the State Department ordered the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to remind Israeli officials of "our continuing opposition to any 'settlements' " and of the U.S. view that they violated international law. At first the objections were voiced mainly by mid-level diplomats, often behind closed doors. By 1976, the American delegate to the U.N., William Scranton, stated in a Security Council debate -- as public a forum as possible on earth -- that settlements were "illegal under the [Fourth Geneva] Convention."
Yet meanwhile, America's generous aid to Israel arguably helped finance the settlement enterprise, whose true cost remains a mystery even to top Israeli officials. The investment in settlements is hidden in myriad corners of the Israeli budget -- subsidized mortgages for settlers under the Housing Ministry, job perks for teachers under the Education Ministry, security costs in the classified defense budget. As far back as the 1980s, a left-leaning cabinet minister told me that he tried to find out how much the government was spending on settlement...."