Ex-settler leader could head Disengagement Authority

The Prime Minister's Office has tapped former settler leader Benzi Lieberman to head the Disengagement Authority. Lieberman told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that he had been offered the post by the Prime Minister's Office, but had not yet decided whether he would accept. The Prime Minister's Office had no comment on the matter. As the former head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip from 2002 to 2007, Lieberman helped lead the campaign against the 2005 destruction of 21 Gaza settlements and four settlements in northern Samaria. If he accepts the job, he will be taking over the last leg of the resettlement of the 1,359 evacuee families into their new permanent homes. To date, according to a source in the Disengagement Authority, 60 percent of those families have yet to start building their new homes. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to hear a status report on the evacuees at Sunday's cabinet meeting. He has already come under fire from members of his own party for not doing enough to resettle the evacuees and for failing to convene a forum of directors-general, which met under the past government to deal with resettlement issues. On Sunday, in a move to help the evacuees, Netanyahu is expected to ask the cabinet to overturn a decision made by the past cabinet to close the Disengagement Authority by January. Netanyahu plans to ask the cabinet to extend the authority's work until the end of 2010, at which time its future would be reevaluated. The authority was created in 2004 to help move the evacuees into their new homes. Yonatan Bassi headed the authority until 2006, when he resigned and was replaced by Tzvia Shimon. She is due to leave her post at the end of the month.