Gush Katif evacuees to get higher compensation

Under new bill, gov’t to allocate NIS 300m. for home, business owners.

Gush Katif settlers are evacuated from Gaza 311 (R) (photo credit: Paul Hanna / Reuters)
Gush Katif settlers are evacuated from Gaza 311 (R)
(photo credit: Paul Hanna / Reuters)
A bill to provide NIS 300 million to Gaza and northern Samaria evacuees passed its third, and final, reading in the Knesset late Wednesday night.
Six years after 21 settlements were demolished, the law is intended to implement the findings of the State Commission of Inquiry into the Handling by the Authorized Authorities of the Evacuees from Gush Katif and Northern Samaria, published in June 2010.
RELATED:Five years later, Gush Katif evacuees find solace in desert
The law will provide funding for the evacuees that the report said was lacking, including compensation for destroyed homes and farmland, and support for new businesses founded by evacuees.
“The passing of this bill gives the Knesset its respect back, six years after the disengagement,” coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), who sponsored the bill, said.
“The State of Israel decided to evacuate the settlements of Gush Katif, and it is the state’s basic responsibility to look out for the evacuees’ welfare,” he explained. “Over the past year, we in the Knesset worked to arrange the compensation for Gush Katif evacuees, and today we can say we succeeded.”
“Better late than never,” Elkin added.
If Gush Katif homeowners sign a document that they no longer demand compensation from the state, they will receive additional payment in the amount of 7 to 11.5 percent of the compensation originally received.
Those forced to leave businesses and farmland will be paid according to the value of the business and their income in Gush Katif.
Farmers will also be able to choose between two forms of compensation: NIS 400,000 in addition to funds they have already received, or 40 dunams within the next 12 months.
“I see this bill as the State of Israel paying back a moral debt to those uprooted from Gush Katif,” said Bentzi Lieberman, chairman of Tnufa, an organization meant to aid Gaza and northern Samaria evacuees.
“Increasing compensation is a turning point, which will allow the evacuees to complete building houses. Our job is to continue putting energy into implementing [the inquiry committee’s] decisions, and make sure families and communities are moved to permanent homes,” he added.