'Address evacuee issue now, so we do it better next time'

It may seem a little strange that Kadima MK Amira Dotan was a key initiator behind the state commission of inquiry into the treatment of the evacuees from Gaza. She was not the only Kadima member of the State Control Committee to support the establishment of the commission on Wednesday; also voting in favor was party comrade Marina Solodkin. But Solodkin is so personally at odds with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, it's not surprising that she would support a measure likely only to cause more headaches for the government. Not so Dotan, who supported the Gaza disengagement and still believes other such settler relocations may be necessary for peace. That, she says, is exactly the point: "We have to investigate now not to cast blame on what happened in the past, but to prepare better for next time. What can we say to those who may have to relocate in the future, if we don't fix what went wrong now?" Dotan knows this particular viewpoint is not shared by most of the other MKs who voted in favor of the commission, but still thinks it's the right thing to do. "Are the evacuees the enemy here? Of course not," she says. "They deserve jobs and homes in place of the ones they lost." Dotan insists the commission won't be looking to assign individual guilt for the failures of the past two years. "We've designed it so the focus will be making concrete recommendations so this situation can be properly addressed now and in the future," she says. Unlike the settlers and their supporters on the opposition, she primarily faults neither her own government, nor the Disengagement Authority (SELA) that was supposed to address this situation. "There are no bad intentions here," Dotan says. "SELA did the best it could, but it is crippled, it doesn't have the necessary tools. The same is even true of the prime minister." The problem, Dotan insists, lies much deeper, with fundamental bureaucratic and legal obstacles that will have to be addressed and changed, in some cases by new legislature. Still, was a commission of inquiry - only the third one in Israel's history - necessary to accomplish this? "Believe me, I've tried every other way to move on this issue in the past two years, talking about it with the prime minister, with [director-general of the Prime Minister's Office] Ra'anan Dinur, but in the end this seemed to be the only way to make real changes." Prior to joining Kadima, Dotan served in the IDF as chief of the Women's Corps and worked with the Jewish Agency, until former Kadima leader Ariel Sharon brought her onto the party list. Does Dotan believe that such a commission would have been necessary if her political patron were still prime minister? "If Sharon were running things, he would have immediately understood the problems with the evacuees and found ways to deal with them. He would have shouted and would have probably been criticized as a 'bulldozer' who broke rules - but he would have gotten the job done."