Gaza evacuees under compensated

"Only 40 percent of the businesses have received the sum they deserve."

By DANIEL KENNEMER
June 14, 2006 23:53
2 minute read.
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While the vast majority of Gaza evacuees have received the bulk of the compensation for which they were found eligible, only 40 percent of the businesses have received the sum they deserve, SELA Disengagement Authority head Yonatan Bassi told the Knesset Finance Committee Wednesday. "There were no families that refused to take compensation," he added, but later noted that less than one in five closed-down agricultural businesses have submitted claims. Of the 1,878 requests for compensation, 1,145 have been paid the full amount that they deserve, 675 received three-quarters of the money they will ultimately receive, and 70 evacuee households have received advance sums only, Bassi said, 10 months after disengagement. "We feel that, in terms of compensation, we succeeded and have reached a reasonable situation... We certainly feel, after 10 months since the disengagement, that we have acted for the good of the settlers," he added, referring to efforts to provide the evacuees housing as well. "There could indeed be claims against us... but the Housing Ministry has taken it upon itself to find solutions for all housing problems for the evacuees who are mostly in temporary dwellings," he said. Bassi conceded, however, that the administration "feels less good" about its ability to solve employment problems and compensate evacuated businesses, both agricultural and non-agricultural. A final decision has been reached in only 105 of 276 claims, but 125 claimants have received "large advances so that they can continue in business," he said. While non-agricultural businesses account for nearly 200 of the claims submitted, only 77 were for evacuated agricultural businesses, though there were known to be more than 400 in Gush Katif, noted Bassi, who will be replaced at the end of the month by Tzvia Shimon of the Prime Minister's Office. Several evacuees have complained harshly about matters related to housing, employment and education and called for leading Knesset members to push for changes in the legislation, the Finance Committee spokesman said. PMO Director-General Ra'anan Dinur warned the Finance Committee against changes in the legislation proposed by Knesset members "from the left and the right," saying they would leave the government "helpless against the evacuees' distress." A Finance Ministry representative at the committee's session, Deputy Budget Director Harel Belinda also rejected unspecified changes to the legislation, adding that "in our opinion most of the problems can be solved within the [existing] law." Belinda said that, to date, disengagement costs have reached NIS 9 billion, including compensation expenses, military costs incurred by the evacuation and arrangements related to the evacuees' housing and employment. "The total [for disengagement] is continually rising," he said, adding that "there is a real problem, and even the sense of a time bomb, and we are looking for ways to help [the evacuees] within the framework of the existing law."

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