MK Ami Ayalon pushes to revive compensation bill

Former Labor minister: Program will be needed after ‘inevitable failure of direct talks with the Palestinians.’

ami ayalon 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
ami ayalon 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Former minister-without-portfolio Ami Ayalon called for a renewed push on on Tuesday for a bill to reimburse settlers for leaving their homes.
The bill advocated by Ayalon is not new – it was quashed repeatedly under the Kadima government – but he said that the time was now right to start a public campaign to rally support for his plan.
Ayalon told The Jerusalem Post that while he had already met with a number of people about the bill, which was initially sponsored by then-MKs Colette Avital (Labor) and Avshalom Vilan (Meretz), he was first hoping to push his plan with the public.
Ayalon said that he had yet to count yeas and nays in the Knesset, and that he would first try to convince the Israeli people that now was the right time to rethink a “voluntary return to the borders of Israel.”
The former Labor minister, who currently is active with a public group called Blue White Future, said such a program would be a necessary recourse for Israel after “the inevitable failure to accomplish anything through direct talks with the Palestinians.”
After the American mid-term elections in November, he added, the political climate would be ripe for such an Israeli initiative.
The idea was last touted by then-vice prime minister Haim Ramon, who in September 2008 proposed a voluntary evacuation bill that would compensate Jewish property owners who lived outside the West Bank security barrier, an average $300,000, or NIS 1.1 million, for their homes.
At the time he calculated that 72 settlements, out of the total of 121, were located beyond the barrier’s proposed route.
Ramon further estimated that there were 61,808 settlers living in those 72 communities, out of whom 11,000, or 18 percent, would make use of the bill.
As of September 2009, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, there were 301,200 Jews living in the West Bank, the bulk of whom live in 51 settlements located within the boundaries of the security barrier.
Most of the settlement growth at present occurs in those communities.