Netanyahu Promises to "Repay Debt" to Katif Expellees

MK Binyamin Netanyahu, visiting the largest community of ex-Gush Katif residents, promised to "repay the national debt" owed to the expellees.

Hillel Fendel,

Opposition leader MK Binyamin Netanyahu, during a visit to the largest community of former Gush Katif residents, promised to "repay the national debt" owed to the expellees.

Visiting in the pre-fab housing community of Nitzan, just north of Ashkelon, on Wednesday, ex-Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, "The country has a national and moral obligation to these people. The State sent them to Gush Katif in the first place, and then banished them, causing very terrible suffering... This cannot go on."

Netanyahu was greeted enthusiastically by many of the residents, some of whom even chanted slogans in support of his candidacy for Prime Minister when national elections are next held.

The present Opposition Leader  met with leaders of the former communities, as well as with Lior Kalfa, head of the Katif Residents Committee.  Netanyahu was appraised of the State's treatment of the residents over the past 20 months since they were expelled from their homes. 

Netanyahu said he saw "families living in very crowded conditions, with great uncertainty, children with psychological problems, formerly self-supporting families that have been reduced to begging for help."

"As head of the opposition," Netanyahu said, "I will do all that I can, together with my colleagues, to help alleviate these problems. I hope and believe that with G-d's help, the citizens of Israel will return us to national leadership, and we will then work to pay back the debt owed to these people once and for all; I personally feel obligated to this goal."

It should be noted that the Katif Residents Committee, with the help of MKs Uri Ariel, Avigdor Yitzchaki, and to a lesser extent, MKs Ze'ev Elkin and Amira Dotan, attained this week over a half-billion shekels in improvements to the existing Compensation Law. Amendments include allocations for children under 4 years old, increased compensation for their destroyed homes in Katif, increased benefits for unemployed salaried workers, compensation for small business owners, and more.

Netanyahu resigned in August 2005 as Finance Minister under then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in protest of the Disengagement - but many felt that this move, coming just a week before the expulsion, was "too little, too late."