Nitzanim offer extended for one week, 430 families said interested (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Yuval Yoaz and Nir Hasson 05/19/05)
HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE
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Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and the director general of the Prime
Minister´s Office, Ilan Cohen said yesterday that the government will
give Gush Katif settlers one more week to decide whether to join the
Nitzanim plan, and that otherwise they may not be able to move en
The pair spoke at a news conference following a meeting of the
ministerial committee on disengagement.
Settlers leaders immediately rejected the ultimatum, saying it
represented "the continuation of the government´s spectacle of
deception in which it condescends to offer the settlers Nitzanim and
they appear to turn it down." The leaders said the government planned
to wear down the settlers "in refugee camps" until they end their
struggle and give up on moving to Nitzanim.
"No one can survive three years in a trailer," one settler leader
said. He said this was why the settlers were demanding to be moved
directly from Gush Katif to their own plots in Nitzanim, to avoid
being uprooted twice.
So far, 430 families have expressed interest in moving to Nitzanim,
though not all of them have signed application forms.
Livni said contacts were continuing with other families and groups
who had expressed an interest.
Livni and Cohen said they were not issuing an ultimatum but that it
was necessary to set a deadline because the government needed time to
organize temporary housing for evacuees. "We can´t put off decisions
until the last minute," Livni said. "It is important for us to leave
a window of opportunity for another week; after that, the door will
still be open but the conditions will be different; we won´t be able
to get organized at the last minute."
She said that the Nitzanim plan had been an initiative of the
settlers themselves and not the government.
Cohen said, "It is not a matter of punishing those who don´t join in.
It is merely a matter of being able to prepare and provide is
requested." Government sources said time was not working in favor of
those who want to move to Nitzanim.
Even if the number of families that want to join the plan remains at
430, it would be necessary to create at least one more community, in
addition to expanding Nitzan, Livni said.
The government has bought options on 700 apartments in the region so
that, if needed, they can serve as temporary housing for settlers,
until they move to their permanent homes.
The settler leaders said again yesterday that there was no basis to
to claims that more than 400 families had signed forms showing that
they were interested in moving from their homes. They said the number
could not be larger than 200. At Neveh Dekalim, the largest
settlement in the Gaza Strip, there are 500 families, and only a
handful have signed, they said.
Settler opposition circles, however, insisted that the numbers given
by Livni were correct.
"The leadership talks about ideology and is presenting demands to
lead to the failure of negotiations," they said. "We want to take
care of our children´s well-being and ensure that they will leave
here with as few scars as possible."
But the opposition circles among the settlers said Livni´s news
conference had damaged their interests because it appeared as if the
government was threatening the settlers, and this could alienate
other settlers who might want to move to Nitzanim.
Avi Farhan, a veteran resident of Elei Sinai, yesterday called on
residents of the northern Gaza Strip to reject Livni´s offer. In a
letter circulated to settlers, he urged them not to sign, saying, "A
person who is fighting for his home does not take out an insurance
Residents of Elei Sinai yesterday released a map purporting to show
that the northern Gaza Strip had never been controled by Egyptian or
other foreign state, but rather had been a demilitarized zone under
They said their settlements were far from Palestinian villages and
that they had never taken any Palestinian land or evicted anyone.
The northern Gaza Strip settlements are Elei Sinai, Dugit and Nisanit.
(© Copyright 2005 Haaretz. 05/19/05)
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