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Gov´t won´t allow mass-settler move to W. Bank (JERUSALEM POST) By TOVAH LAZAROFF AND MATTHEW GUTMAN 02/01/05)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1107228085190 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit, who is in charge of the government´s compensation legislation for the 8,000 people whom the government wants to move out of Gush Katif by next fall, said that the option for group resettlement is to the Negev or Galilee.

Sheetrit said that people who want to move to settlements in the West Bank as individuals may, but not as a group.

The government expects that many of the settlers will not want to move to the West Bank, since some that area will probably be evacuated in the long run as well, the official said.

Some 38 families from the settlements of Nisanit and Elei Sinai have agreed to move to Bat Hadar a community just south of Ashkelon, should it be necessary. In return they are to receive a half-dunam plot, a lump sum cash compensation package and a bonus of $30,000 for moving to one of several "preferred communities." Their financial compensation depends entirely on the Knesset´s passage of the Evacuation-Compensation Bill on February 7, said Sela spokesman Haim Altman.

Eight families agreed to move within a month.

Moshe Adasha who spearheaded the Elei Sinai-based initiative of a mass exodus of settlers to a "replica," community elsewhere in Israel proper called the decision of the 38 families to leave, "hasty and premature." Yet he said he understood that they felt "an immediate need to move."

So far, 56 of 85 families living in Elei Sinai have signed a petition agreeing to leave, should the Knesset pass the Evacuation- Compensation Bill, Adasha told The Jerusalem Post.

Adasha, along with several others, has lobbied Sela to induce the government to accept the Nitzanim beach between Ashdod and Ashkelon as a suitable location to "replicate" their community. Their efforts have been met with stiff resistance by an overburdened Disengagement Authority and other government ministries.

Nitzanim is currently, and paradoxically, both a nature preserve and an IDF firing range. Settlement sources added that a large number of families from the settlements of the Bedolah, Gan Or, Rafiah Yam and Gadid are lobbying for their communities to be replicated along the Nitzanim Beach.

The Elei Sinai settlers are the second group of families to reach a formal agreement with the Disengagement Authority. In December, the 25 families of Pe´at Sadeh agreed to relocate to Moshav Mavki´im, near Ashkelon. According to the Prime Minister´s Office, the Authority is in negotiations with other Gaza communities.

MK Nissim Slomiansky (National Religious Party) spoke at the Knesset Finance Committee in early December, on behalf of three communities that may relocate as wholes.

"I don´t want to give the impression that they are ready to leave," Slomiansky said. "However, if there is a situation where they are taken out by force, then they want to move as an entire community."

"Stopping disengagement is out of our hands and we are worrying about alternatives," said Shosh Schatz, Elei Sinai resident, explaining that she hopes such plans will never come to fruition.

She worries that the disengagement compensation packages will not reimburse residents for the full value of their homes. ´I am now living in my dream house. My husband and I have been working hard to pay off our mortgage by the time we turn 40. I am 39 now and we see a light at the end of the tunnel in a year-and-a-half,´ said Schatz. Moving will set them back financially by 10 years, she added.

It´s not an issue of money; it´s an issue of standard, said Schatz. She can deal with the financial loss, but not that of her lifestyle and community. ´I told the government: do not give us a shekel, just give us a comparable place to live,´ said Schatz, who has three children.

Elei Sinai, home to some 90 families, was founded in the winter of 1982 by a number of former Yamit residents. Yamit, located in the Sinai desert, was evacuated by the government that same year as part of its peace deal with Egypt. With AP (© 1995-2004, The Jerusalem Post 02/01/05)

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