(photo credit: AP [file])
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert defended the Gaza disengagement Wednesday morning to a state commission of inquiry into the treatment of those evacuated from their homes.
"I thought back then and I still think there was no way around the disengagement, in order to effectuate the separation of the Jewish people in the State of Israel from the Palestinians and to create a barrier [between the two], in order to reach goals we believed were Israel's top national priority," Olmert said.
The commission, headed by former judge Eliyahu Matza, includes Dr. Shimon Ravid and Prof. Yedidya Stern. It began its inquiry in May 2009, half a year after it was established by the Knesset's State Control Committee. The commission intends to publish an interim report in the near future.
The commission's members toured the Lachish and Haluza areas on Tuesday to gain a first-hand view of the lots that have been prepared to house the Gaza evacuees.
The commission is expected to examine, among other issues, delays in construction of permanent residences for the evacuees and reimbursement for farmers and other business owners who incurred financial losses following the disengagement from Gaza in 2005.
Doron Ben-Shlomi, who heads the committee of former Gush Katif evacuees, said at the beginning of the commission's hearings that "this commission is a necessity, after almost four years of running from one government ministry to another and being offered a partial solution for our needs."
MK Zevulun Orlev [Habayit Hayehudi], who vehemently opposed the disengagement, told the commission that "we will finally bring to justice those who are accountable for the tragedy of 10,000 people expelled from their homes."