Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Elul 5765 - September 21, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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NIS 1.5b More for Disengagement

by M Plaut and Yated Ne'eman Staff

The Knesset Finance Committee approved NIS 1.5 billion more for Disengagement expenses, bringing the total budget to NIS 3.5 billion. Around 80 percent of the additional funds will be for compensation to the evacuees. About NIS 800 million will go to individual claimants and NIS 300 million will go to businesses. The rest of the funds will for the military to cover costs it incurred during the pullout and other related expenses including those of the Defense, Agriculture and Housing Ministries.

Previously NIS 900 million had been set aside as compensation for the evacuated settlers. This proved enough to compensate only about half of those evacuated. More money is needed to compensate the rest and also to house 920 families still living in hotels until better arrangements can be made.

Approximately half of the original NIS 2b. allocated for the Disengagement was used by the military and police forces. The IDF received NIS 600 million and the police NIS 400m. Nearly NIS 900m. was given to settlers who applied for compensation. The rest, however, has not yet been accounted for.

More than NIS 100m. of the original budget was "missing," according to Zvi Rosen, a spokesman for the Finance Committee. "We know approximately where that original money was spent, but we do not have exact figures," said Rosen. "We are speaking of billions of shekels here. Millions tend to get lost among billions."

A Finance Ministry spokesman said that the additional funds were necessary due to the increase in compensation demands filed by settlers. Some is due to the fact that the government has decided to compensate all of the settlers, even those who did not leave voluntarily. Originally it said that settlers who did not leave in advance would get only 70 percent of the compensation. When things went fairly smoothly, the government decided to give everyone full compensation.

Finance Committee chair MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman said he plans to hold a separate meeting in which ministerial representatives will provide details on the settlers' compensation. At that special meeting, government officials who were involved in disengagement, including representatives from the Prime Minister's Office, Sela, the Housing Ministry and the IDF, will be expected to present detailed figures explaining how money was spent so far.

Disengagement Administration head Yonatan Bassi said that the government had pledged to uphold the standard of living enjoyed by the settlers before their relocation.

"We promised the Gaza evacuees that we would maintain the lifestyles to which they were accustomed. Buying them seaside villas in Bat Yam is out of the question, so the next best thing is buying them half a dunam in Ashkelon," Bassi said. The government has spent hundreds of millions of shekels buying expensive real estate.

"We have two settlements, . . . [who] have yet to decide. Because they haven't made up their minds, we have no option but to prepare more than one site for each settler," Bassi said.

The Jerusalem Post reported that many settlers say they had yet to receive any compensation money from the government.

"I don't know about them allocating any more money, but I still haven't seen a cent of my compensation money," said Anita Tucker, a former resident of Netzer Hazani told the Post. "We have not even gotten the first $50,000 that we were supposed to get when we walked off the bus that evacuated us."

Tucker, who admitted that she had only recently filled out her compensation forms, said her funds were being delayed because she could not prove that she had lived in Netzer Hazani for 29 years.

"They want records to prove I lived there 29 years," she said. "But apparently I don't have the type of records they want." Tucker was asked to provide electricity records as proof, but she could only prove 27 years of residency in this manner because for the first two years she lived there a generator powered her home. Sela also asked her for phone records, but Tucker said she did not have a phone for the first seven years.

"I told them to look in the papers, that there was a picture of me with Yitzhak Rabin when I first moved there, but they didn't like that answer," she said.


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