Nitzanim Plan moves "full steam ahead"; settlers given seven days to sign up(ISRAEL INSIDER) By israelinsider staff and partners 05/18/05)
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Gaza Strip settlers were given seven days on Wednesday to sign up
for a plan to relocate to the Nitzanim area after they are evacuated
from their homes under the disengagement plan.
The announcement was made after a meeting of the ministerial
committee for disengagement, headed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon,
to examine progress in the Nitzanim plan and in the installation of
temporary housing in the Nitzan area and communities outside Gaza.
Speaking at a joint press conference with the director-general of
the Prime Minister´s Office, Ilan Cohen, Justice Minister Tzipi
Livni warned that those who do not sign up within a week will not be
part of the communal evacuation.
The justice minister said that 426 families have signed up for the
plan so far, and the government is still answering inquiries. Livni
said the decision to make a public appeal to the Gaza settlers to
join the scheme was made in the wake of recent contacts with several
"It is only fair to deliver the message to the settlers directly,
rather than through intermediaries," Livni said, adding that the
government wanted to ensure that every family received the message
in the wake of the divisions between the various groups representing
Livni added that, in her opinion, the number of families that have
already signed up for the plan necessitates the construction of at
least one new town in addition to the expansion of Nitzan.
Yitzhak Meron, head of the Legal Forum of the Land of Israel, which
is representing the settlers, said Tuesday that three points of
contention remain between the settlers and the cabinet regarding the
First, the settlers are demanding the evacuation be postponed until
their permanent new homes are built. They want to avoid "double
uprooting," or the need to move twice - first to temporary housing
and then to permanent homes.
When the government refused to delay the disengagement, the settlers
demanded placing temporary trailers on land slated for their
permanent future homes in Nitzan and north Ashkelon. Any other site
would be a "future refugee camp," they said.
The government refuses this too, saying there is no way to complete
the planning for the permanent lots prior to the placement of
temporary trailers. A lot for 450 homes is being prepared in Nitzan
alongside a lot for 450 temporary structures.
Second, the settlers are demanding the acceleration of procedures
for purchasing land in the Nitzanim area. They want the government
to confiscate the land in the same fast-track method that was
applied to the Gaza Strip evacuation under the Evacuation
Third, the settlers are demanding to increase their compensation by
amending the law, if the High Court of Justice decides not to
intervene. Among their demands is the compensating of farmers for
two to three seasons of produce.
"It is unthinkable that a person should emerge from the evacuation
process poorer than he was before the disengagement plan was
declared," said Meron.
The settlers are demanding that the government confiscate land in
Nitzanim to facilitate the building of new homes and increase
compensation for evacuating Gaza. The settlers also object to moving
to temporary housing prior to moving into their permanent homes.
The disagreement between the settlers and the government on these
issues has held up implementation of the Nitzanim plan.
Livni on Tuesday blasted some political leaders among the settlers
for refusing to negotiate with the government over the Nitzanim
plan, and for calling it a "surrender plan."
Livni said these leaders are harming the rest of settlers´ interests
by preventing them from proceeding with the evacuation plans.
Meron on Tuesday accused Livni of conducting psychological warfare
rather than finding appropriate solutions to ensure implementation
of the Nitzanim plan.
During the visit to the Ashkelon coast and western Negev, Sharon
asked housing minister Isaac Herzog to speed up on preparations for
the absorption of Gaza evacuees. "We need to work quickly. There´s
not a moment to waste. Go full steam ahead," he said.
Herzog and Disengagement Authority head Yonatan Bassi joined Sharon
on the secret tour of the Yavul, Carmiya, Miflasim and Nitzan
The ministerial committee charged with addressing evacuation-related
matters decided Tuesday to authorize the purchase of caravans as a
temporary housing solution for would-be evacuees. "When things start
getting serious, we will bring caravans as temporary housing here,"
Herzog told Sharon that the area is attractive to developers, so the
evacuees would have to be quick on deciding whether they wish to
Sharon also surveyed the Niztanim cemetery in Nitzan. The kibbutz
was given 12 dunams by the government, in order to expand the
cemetery, thus allowing Gush Katif settlers an alternative to
reburying their dead.
While Sharon refused to meet with a local Nitzan representative of
the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, Interior
Minister Ophir Pines is scheduled to visit the protected dunes of
Nitzanim Friday with local council head Shimon Cohen.
Meanwhile, Defense Shaul Mofaz visited settlements in northern Gaza
and met with residents, who expressed fears about the impending
Mofaz told them the government would contact those who have loved
ones buried in the area to discuss disinterring arrangements.
The leadership says the vast majority believes the official settler
line, that there should be no cooperation with the government. The
leadership has held gatherings in homes and sent out fliers opposing
the Nitzanim plan, and held large anti-Nitzanim gatherings.
In a request that settlers refuse to sign up for Nitzanim, settler
leader Avner Shimoni wrote: "Our signature is tantamount to
agreement to moving to a refugee camp." (© 2001-2005 Koret
Communications Ltd. 05/18/05)
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