Dotan accuses gov't of making empty promises to evacuees

Former MK: After the beautiful declearations, absolutely nothing happened.

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert and his director-general made promises to help the Gush Katif evacuees but did not keep them, and rejected suggestions that could have helped, Amira Dotan, former MK and former head of the IDF Women's Corps, charged on Sunday. Dotan, who headed a State Control subcommittee in the previous Knesset on the problems that arose in resettling the evacuees quickly, was speaking before the State Commission of Inquiry into the Handling by the Authorized Authorities of the Evacuees from Gush Katif and Northern Samaria - a commission she was instrumental in creating. "Olmert wanted to help," Dotan told retired Supreme Court justice Eliyahu Mazza, Dr. Moshe Ravid and Prof. Yedidya Stern. "But the desire died immediately after he expressed it," she went on. "There was no implementation of the promises in the field. After the beautiful declarations, absolutely nothing happened." For example, she said, when she and the members of her subcommittee realized there were serious problems involving the farmers from Gush Katif and unemployment in general, they suggested that all ministries cooperate, rather than each one doing its own part separately. "The Prime Minister's Office told us, 'Absolutely not,'" she continued. The government also rejected her proposal for arbitration to resolve disputes between the evacuees and the Sela Administration for Assistance to Settlers from the Gaza Strip and Northern Samaria, over the amount of financial compensation they were to receive. Dotan was also highly critical of the bureaucratic handling of the resettlement. "I always thought that with authority comes responsibility," she said. "Apparently this is true only in the Defense Ministry and the army. In the resettlement process, there were so many people involved, and the responsibility was so fragmented. There was no overall vision. All they saw were the written rules before them." Dotan also charged that the evacuees had not been resettled quickly because no one in the country cared about their plight. She said the public at large regarded the matter as a political problem rather than a humanitarian one. "The public painted the whole thing orange," she said. She also denied that the settlers had been uncooperative with Sela. "Our country has been blessed with these excellent people," she said. "The heads of the settlers' committees are people of great stature, outstanding in their modesty. To say they were uncooperative is to say the opposite of the truth. Had the leadership fallen into other people's hands, we would be in a very different situation than we are today."