'Gov't companies ignored hiring directive following redeployment from Gaza'

Senior employment official tells panel that move contributed to evacuees' lack of faith in government.

nitzan caravilla 298.88 (photo credit: Associated Press [file])
nitzan caravilla 298.88
(photo credit: Associated Press [file])
Had government corporations made a genuine effort to find work for Gush Katif evacuees instead of allegedly ignoring them, their morale might have been lifted and perhaps there would have been no need to investigate their resettlement problems, the Employment Service deputy director-general said Sunday. The official, Ya'acov Zigadon, was testifying before the State Commission of Inquiry into the Handling by the Authorized Authorities of the Evacuees from Gush Katif and Northern Samaria. The investigation was ordered by the Knesset State Control Committee in the wake of two State Comptroller reports - one in March 2006 and the other in January 2009 - that were highly critical of the way key government bodies addressed the needs of former settlers following the redeployment from the Gaza Strip. Sunday's public hearing, the fourth held by the commission so far, was devoted to the employment of the Gush Katif evacuees who lost their jobs after relocating. According to figures presented by Zigadon, 2,764 were working and 416 were looking for work at the end of December 2007, when a special government program for helping the evacuees find jobs came to an end. At the time of the redeployment, there were some 3,100 potential members of the work force, of whom 300 were unemployed. The figures include 1,115 residents of Gush Katif who were working in Israel and whose jobs were not affected by the redeployment. In order to help evacuees who had lost jobs to find new work, the government established several programs. One, backed by a cabinet resolution, called on government corporations to give preferential treatment to evacuees regarding job openings. In his January 2009 report, the state comptroller found that of 1,500 government corporation jobs that became available between the redeployment and December 2007, only four were given to Gush Katif evacuees. "The measure was a big failure," said Zigadon. "Why did it fail? Because the companies did not want to absorb the evacuees." Shimon Ravid, who, together with retired Supreme Court justice Eliyahu Mazza and law professor Yedidya Stern, is a member of the commission, said, "So it was one long mockery of a government decision," to which Zigadon replied: "If 50 evacuees had found jobs in the government companies, the atmosphere regarding all the other issues between them and the authorities might have been different. Maybe the evacuees would have had greater faith in the government." The commission found another example of a government resolution that was ignored, at least until now. In March, the cabinet resolved to form a steering committee to oversee the work of a non-profit group that would continue trying to find work for unemployed evacuees. The Employment Service was to be one of the members of the steering committee. But Zigadon said he knew nothing about the decision and was certain no such committee had been established. "Ah, so it was a government recommendation, not a resolution," Mazza commented with sarcasm.