E1 settlement plans
It can be argued that on a tactical level, our government’s reaction to the Palestinian U.N. bid was a mistake.
The announcement of plans for 3,000 housing units in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria less than 24 hours after the U.N. General Assembly vote to give “Palestine” non-member observer status might be interpreted by the U.S., Canada, the Czech Republic and the other five countries that voted against the Palestinian bid and the 41 states that abstained (not to mention the countries that voted in favor) as an unnecessary provocation.
The move also unfairly paints Israel — at least in the eyes of the international community — as the guilty party in the ongoing deadlock in peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
More substantially, the idea that Jewish settlement construction can be used as a means of punishment against Palestinians is wrongheaded. We build in existing Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem out of a real need to supply housing for a fast-growing population. Unlike the vast majority of Western countries, Israel enjoys brisk natural population growth.
While the timing of our government’s announcement might result in negative diplomatic repercussions, building in Jerusalem and E1 protects integral Israeli interests recognized and protected by both left-wing and right-wing governments for well over a decade.
The Jerusalem Post
Foreign corporate tax dodgers
The most heartening development from the escalating political row about the amount of tax that big companies pay in Britain has been the move by Starbucks, the coffee chain, to engage in talks with HMRC about its future tax payments. The company was acting within the law in paying much of its earnings as royalties through a sister company in the Netherlands, which reduced its corporation tax bill here to zero, but it is one thing to act within the law and it is quite another to act in a manner that strikes customers as right. And in the case of a coffee chain there is no shortage of other options for consumers.
It remains to be seen whether consumer pressure can be brought in the same way on other multinationals which go out of their way to minimize their tax payments in the UK, such as Google, Amazon and Apple. Certainly, the chancellor is right to be boosting the number of skilled workers at HMRC whose mandate is to investigate the tax tactics employed by big companies to see whether they comply with the law, and whether the law itself should be changed. Companies that make money here should pay tax here: customers can nudge them to do the right thing.
London Evening Standard