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Friday, September 29, 2006

Behind the news

Recently, there was a news report about a rich American who had covered the debts to the grocer for Gush Katif refugees.

The report bothered me. Those who just spent without considering the amount were given a larger gift than those who were more frugal or managed their money better.

I'm glad to report that the story isn't quite the way it was reported, but my sources report lots of other and more serious problems:
The article on Israel National News about the philanthropist paying the
grocery debts of Gush Katif expellees at Nitzan is not quite accurate.

I spoke to the proprietor of the macolet directly. The philanthropist
distributed a total of 30,000 NIS among those people with the largest debts at
macolets at many locations where Gush Katif expellees are located - paying a few
hundred shekalim on the largest debts of families at each of these
locations.

The debts were not "cleared" just reduced somewhat. Not a big story
really.

The major issues facing the expellees now are: no movement on the
building of permanent homes or infrastructure work in the various locations where
families have been living in temporary housing (today there was a demonstration
in Jerusalem about this),
  • high unemployment among expellees -especially among farmers that have yet to
    be allocated land or money to start growing
  • stalled negotiations with govt. bodies about planning the new permanent
    communities including such issues as:
  • no land rights for renters in Gush Katif,
  • no land rights for the next generation of grown children,
  • no govt. provision for "replacing" the public institutions that we had in
    the Gush such as yeshivas, ulpanas, sport center, etc.

A major cause of all these problems is the original "chok pinui/pitzui"
(compensation law) passed by the last govt that only dealt with individual
financial compensation for each family based on a formula. The law didn't
provide for replacing communities as if the government didn't want or anticipate
that Gush Katif families would want to recreate their towns after the
expulsion.

There is no provision in the law for this and SELA, even with the best of
intentions, is incapable allocating funds etc. So, community leaders
at each site are meeting with all the govt. ministers and director generals to
get the money and permits - an endless and frustrating process given
the amount of bureaucracy - ie little to no movement after a year and 2
months.

I guess that some 10% of the families from the Gush simply went their own
individual way and are not involved with this process.

By the way,
out of some 20+ locations intended for permanent communities, only in
Nitzan has infrastructure work begun, intended as one location for
families from Neve Dekalim.


Shabbat Shalom
Gmar Chatimah Tovah

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