Daily Israel Report

Bennett: We'll Continue to Care for Gush Katif Expellees

Minister Naftali Bennett notes that over half of the Gush Katif expellees still live in temporary homes, despite government promises.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 6/21/2013, 5:16 AM

Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett
Israel news photo: Flash 90

In 2005, when the Israeli government expelled 8,000 residents of Gush Katif and northern Samaria from their homes as part of the “disengagement” plan, it promised that each expellee would be given a home to replace the one he lost.

Now, nearly eight years later, this promise has yet to be fulfilled, as Bayit Yehudi chairman Minister Naftali Bennett noted on Thursday.

Bennett met with representatives of residents of the communities that were evicted. After the meeting, he recalled on his Facebook page that the Ariel Sharon government’s slogan during the disengagement was: “There is a solution for every settler".

"Really?" asked Bennet, adding, "8,000 residents lived in Gush Katif. Currently, over half of them still live in caravans and temporary accommodations. Yeah, you heard right.”

He said that many of the expellees were farmers who grew crops. "Today, 40% of the farmers are unemployed because many of them lack a degree and training other than farming their land,” he said.

Bennett again rejected any possibility of evictions of communities in Judea and Samaria as was done eight years ago in Gush Katif.

"There are those today who want a withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, while evicting some 150,000 people (compared to 8,000 in Gush Katif). It will not happen," he clarified.

"We will continue to care for the Gush Katif expellees with all our might. I need to make special mention of my friend, Uri Ariel, who has been caring for them for years," added Bennett.

Ariel, who is a member of Bennett’s party and who serves as Housing Minister, recently announced that he had allocated 80 million shekels to build permanent housing for refugees from Gush Katif.

"We will continue to take care of the communities,” Ariel said. “We have been able, together with Housing Ministry and the Finance Ministry, to add tens of millions of shekels towards building homes for the expellees. It seemed impossible but we managed to get it into the state budget."

On Thursday, Ariel toured the Beit Yehonatan building in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Shiloach and rejected outright the possibility that Israel would evict more Jewish residents from their homes.

“I want to be clear: There will not be another state west of the Jordan. Unfortunately, the State of Israel was willing to give up almost all of Judea and Samaria, but the Arabs refused. It’s time to stop selling illusions to the public."