(photo credit: Associated Press [file])
The Sela Administration for Assistance to Settlers from the Gaza Strip and Northern Samaria was neither a planning and coordinating body nor an implementative body but something in between and that is why it failed, Ra'anan Dinur, the former director-general of the Prime Minister's Office, said on Wednesday.
Dinur was speaking before the State Commission of Investigation into the Handling of the Evacuees from Gush Katif and Northern Samaria.
Dinur served as director-general of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry until May 2006, about eight months after the unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. For the next three years, he served as director-general of the Prime Minister's Office and had overall responsibility for the entire resettlement program.
The government established Sela to serve as a mediator between the evacuees and the government. However, it was also responsible for determining the compensation to be received by the evacuees for their homes and businesses.
"Sela was a crippled administrative organization," said Dinur. "I have no doubt that had it been built to have only administrative functions, including monitoring, coordinating and follow-up functions, it would have achieved very good results."
One of the key issues that the members of the committee, retired Deputy Supreme Court President Eliyahu Mazza, Shimon Ravid and Prof. Yedidya Stern are trying to determine was whether Sela should have been responsible for implementing the resettlement program or whether it should have been responsible only for the functions mentioned above.
According to Dinur, the decision to leave the responsibility and authority for the implementation of all the facets of the resettlement program with the government was correct. At the same time, he said the government was incapable of implementing anything.
"The government is a body that cannot implement," said Dinur. "It would be best to remove all tasks of implementation from it."
In fact, he went so far as to call for a state commission of investigation to look into this problem. "I want to hope and express my wish, as a citizen of this country, that the day will come when a state commission of inquiry will be appointed to deal with this very painful question of the government's inability to get things done," he told the commission.
He added that the implementation of government programs should be given to non-government companies. However, so long as implementation remained in government hands, the ministries should be held accountable for the results they achieved, he continued. That would at least improve matters.
Regarding the question of finding work for the evacuees, Dinur compared their situation to that of foreign workers. "The employment conditions were different in Gush Katif and inside the Green Line," he explained. Many evacuees received 40 percent of the salaries they had received in Gush Katif. Those who wanted to open a business had to pay far more for labor than they had in their old homes. The people were older than they had been when they started off in the Gaza Strip and it was harder for them to find jobs.
Furthermore, said Dinur, the evacuees were initially far more concerned with finding housing and schools for their children than they were with finding work. Thus, the employment process was delayed.