Thousands of former Gush Katif and Northern Samaria residents, still suffering financially two-and-a-half years after being removed from their homes, may be in for relief, as Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai presented a proposal to the government on Wednesday calling for an increase in the amount of government support for the evacuees. Yishai requested that the government lengthen Government Ruling #312, pertaining to the provision of aid to evacuees, until December 31, 2008. The ruling was originally set to remain in force until the end of 2007. The ruling calls for the government to provide stipends to evacuees in order to enable them to pay for professional training courses, and affords them free employment services as well as other provisions aimed at encouraging employment. Yishai, in requesting an extension of Ruling 312, also noted that his ministry would devote more attention to expanding activities aimed at assisting the evacuees. "In order for this to be as effective as possible, however, we really need non-governmental offices to participate in this process," Yishai said, though he did not specify which offices he meant. "There are offices that operate in areas that would be most beneficial to evacuees in terms of helping them find work - they can provide services above and beyond what the government can do." According to Yishai, extending Ruling 312 will have both short- and long-term effects for the estimated 1,000 evacuees who remain unemployed. "Incorporating more evacuees into the country's workforce will decrease this population's absence among the working population, it will improve their lives and the lives of their families, and in the long run, it will open up numerous other economic opportunities for them," Yishai noted.