Katif: Israel Pays to Clear Debris, Expellees Meet With Katzav
Friday, December 23, 2005 / 22 Kislev 5766
Israel has agreed to pay nearly $25 million to the UN to clear the debris remaining from the destroyed homes of Gush Katif... Gush Katif expellees held a positive meeting with President Katzav...
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) was asked to undertake the rehabilitation project of what was Gush Katif by the Government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the Quartet. With more than 1.2 million tons of debris and rubble to be cleared and recycled, the project will cost US $24.7 million - underwritten totally by the Government of Israel. It will take an estimated 18 months to complete, and will employ several hundred PA workers. The concrete and metal debris cleared from the site will be milled and recycled for use as road paving and building materials.
The money will presumably also be used to clear the debris of the synagogues and greenhouses that the Arabs themselves destroyed.
MK Yuval Shteinitz (Likud), who voted for the Disengagement in the Knesset and against its delay, told Arutz-7, "We shouldn't have paid anything; they should thank us for what we left them. For Israel to pay is absurd, but unfortunately, we caved in all the way during these negotiations, simply in order to get this diplomatic achievement. I'd like to see the U.S. pay for what it did in Afghanistan... It's humiliating and irrational."
Shteinitz said the issue was discussed several months ago in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which he heads, and that he said the same things then.
This past Monday, President Moshe Katzav met with representatives of the destroyed Jewish communities and - at the Gush Katif residents' demand - directors of various government ministries.
The residents presented four main problems: * heavy unemployment, * the lack of agricultural plots for nearly all of the former farmers, * the lack compensation for children who lived in Gush Katif and wish to build in their old/new communities, * and the lack of funding for their communal frameworks.
The government officials said that in most cases, their hands are tied by the Evacuation/Compensation Law. President Katzav asked them to work to have the law changed, but to find other solutions in the interim. He suggested that the Ministry directors adopt the model utilized by the Education Ministry, which employs a community representative as a liaison between the town and its schools. The Agriculture Ministry's Director accepted the idea on the spot.
Prime Minister's Office Director Ilan Cohen said that as of January 1, the communities will receive funding. The residents say that most of the uprooted residents continue to live in their communal frameworks, yet money for synagogues, mikvaot, secretariat leaders (mayors), youth directors, welfare employees, culture directors and the like has not been provided since the expulsion.