Evacuees ask Bassi to stay in Sela

'Settlers' rehabilitation just begun, will be set back by Bassi's departure'

bassi walking 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
bassi walking 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
The settlers who were evacuated from Gush Katif during August's disengagement wrote a surprising letter to Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Wednesday requesting he leave Yonatan Bassi as the head of the Disengagement Authority (Sela). Bassi's tenure is expected to end in May. Bassi, himself a religious Zionist, was disliked, to say the least, by many settlers during the summer withdrawal. He was perceived as the man enforcing the government's evacuation decision. Although the letter explains the reasons behind the settlers' refusal to make contact with any government representative, including Bassi, before the disengagement, it appears to express regret over the estrangement. In a joint interview with Bassi on Army Radio, Lior Kalfa, formerly the head of the Neve Dekalim Council, said that the settlers' rehabilitation had only just begun and that the process would be set back if Bassi were to leave Sela. Bassi refused to say whether he would leave his job, saying he would only decide after meeting with Olmert. However, he said that while the job required two more years, he did not intend to stay that long. The Disengagement Authority head insisted that he was not in charge of the disengagement itself, rather, his job was to provide the evacuees housing and employment solutions and any other assistance they required. He noted that the authority had been finding new employment for 150 settlers every week. However, Kalfa said that there were still 1,400-1,500 former residents of the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria who were unemployed. He added that 190 families still lived in hotels, the Elei Sinai evacuees resided in tents at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai and the Atzmona residents were tentatively housed near Netivot.