Gov’t okays NIS 300 million for Gaza evacuees

"Evacuees may now focus on rehabilitating their lives,” Netanyahu says; money will help build homes, compensate farmers and business owners.

disengagement 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [archive])
disengagement 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [archive])
The cabinet on Sunday approved a NIS 300 million deal with the 2005 evacuees from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria, which would resolve all their claims to compensation from the state.
The move comes on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the demolition of 21 settlements in Gaza and four in northern Samaria in August 2005.
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A human tragedy that had continued for years has been brought to a close, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said.
“The evacuees may now focus on rehabilitating their lives,” Netanyahu said of the agreement between his office and the Gush Katif Residents Committee headed by Doron Ben-Shlomi.
It was done with the help of Eyal Gabai, the director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, and Benzi Lieberman, who heads the Tenufa Administration, which was formerly the Sela Disengagement Authority. All community representatives, business owners and farmers from the evacuated communities have signed the agreement.
Although individual evacuees who feel that they did not receive the compensation due them may turn to the courts, as a result of the agreement there will be no further claims by the evacuees for compensation directly from the state. The new money will help evacuees build their homes, and compensate former farmers and business owners.
The cabinet on Sunday also agreed to close Tenufa by the middle of 2013 and to transfer its responsibilities to the relevant ministries.
Former Neveh Dekalim resident Dror Vanunu, a spokesman for the evacuees, said that he was pleased by the government’s decision.
“This is good news,” he said. But he added that the evacuees were “very disappointed” that it took the government so many years to take this step.
“If the agreement had been signed years ago, we would be in a much better state,” he said.
According to Lieberman, out of the 9,000 people who were evacuated from Gaza and northern Samaria, 33 percent now live in permanent homes and 40 percent are in the process of building permanent homes.
Vanunu said he was hopeful that by the end of 2012, most of the families would have been resettled in permanent homes in some 23 communities.
He estimated that on average, aside from the NIS 300m., families had received NIS 800,000 each to pay for their new homes, and to compensate them for expenses and for years lived in Gaza and in northern Samaria.
All total, when one includes compensation for businesses and agricultural assets, the government had spent NIS 3 billion to compensate the evacuees, Vanunu said.