Bill offers funds to settlers who move inside fence

Bill offers compensation if 60% of the community decides to leave.

settlement 298.88 (photo credit:
settlement 298.88
(photo credit:
In a gesture designed to heighten public awareness of the plight of the 80,000 Israelis living outside the security fence, MKs Colette Avital (Labor) and Avshalom Vilan (Meretz-Yahad) plan to file a bill on Monday offering money to compensate those who want to move. It's the second such bill to be proposed, as Labor Party chairman Amir Peretz has also filed a similar bill. Peretz's bill differs from theirs in that it looks at the settlement as a whole, offering compensation only if 60 percent of the community agrees to leave. Avital and Vilan's bill offers to compensate settlers individually for the cost of their homes should they want to leave, irrespective of how their neighbors feel. Through the help of a new non-profit organization, One House, which urges voluntary evacuation, a number of settlers from these communities have turned to the media explaining that they already feel as if their settlements are doomed. "Suddenly I understood that those who evacuated Gush Katif will evacuate us sooner or later," said Benny Raz, 51, of Karnei Shomron. There is a lot of support both among politicians and the public for such a move, Avital told reporters at a Thursday press conference in Tel Aviv. She has received positive feedback from cabinet members, including three from the Likud, she said. To prove public support, she said, "we have very encouraging public opinion polls that we are going to present next week." A July poll by One House showed that 35% of the 80,000 residents outside the fence want to be evacuated. Given that the Knesset will likely be dissolved on Monday, Avital would have to refile her bill after the elections, but she is moving forward anyway. "We want to make sure that any government will put this on its agenda, that the process that was started in Gaza will not end in Gaza. So we are creating this dynamic to help people on a personal level move out," she said. If the government compensates people now, when they have time to organize a move, it will not have to worry about job compensation or temporary housing once any future decisions regarding the country's borders are made, she said. Unlike the compensation packages offered to the Gaza settlers, which took into account loss of employment and number of years spent living in the settlement, this bill offers them only replacement value for their house, which she estimates will be between $100,000 and $200,000. To keep those who oppose giving up any more land from moving into the homes, the structures will either be sealed or destroyed, she said. "There is a clause [in the bill] that anyone who moves in will be charged with a crime," she said. Any future agreement between the government and the Palestinian Authority regarding borders is unlikely to include these settlements, so there is no reason why the people cannot begin moving now if they want to, she said.