Dudi Amsalem
Dudi AmsalemYonaton Sindel, Flash 90

Interior Committee Head MK Dudi Amsalem (Likud) said he would discontinue the discussion on the different articles in the Regulation Law this week, after Finance Ministry clerks were absent on Sunday morning from the discussions regarding compensation for victims of Israel's recent arson intifada.

"These insolent clerks who receive fat salaries from the Israeli government haven't yet appeared. They are making a laughingstock of the residents and did not even bother coming to the meeting," Amsalem fumed.

The discussion was also supposed to deal with the provision of funding to create buffer lines which would prevent the spread of forest fires. Amsalem said: "There is a smummary of an agreement between the government and the JNF to transfer 2 billion shekels ($524 million) from the JNF, including 250 million shekels ($65 million) for the construction of buffer lines. It appears that no money has been provided for any buffer lines. It is probably waiting for trucks to transfer the money."

Tamar Boker, a resident of Beit Meir, told the committee: "Our town went up in flames. We have not received the official report about what caused the fire. The fires destroyed houses and chicken coups. The air pollution is terrible and endangers the residents, There has been no help...34 families were evacuated because it is dangerous to stay in he town. Even the government has not taken responsibility. My parents were Holocaust survivors. My father served in all the wars...My brother performs 50 days of reserve duty a year. We have always given to the sate]. Now we need the state [to help us]."

Amsalem said that it should not make a difference whether the fires were natural, deliberate, or the result of negligence. "The forests belong to the state or to the JNF...The state is responsible to maintain the forests."

"I am shocked." Amsalem said of the failure of the Treasury and the Tax Authority to meet and discuss the issues. "It shows the contempt the officials have for the residents [who have suffered]. Even when there is a discussion hey don't show up. It's driving me crazy. People have had their houses burned down and the clerks down't even come to hear [their plight]. People are left homeless? Where will they go after a week in a hotel? Those who could provide the solutions are not here."

The committee is expected to resume discussions on these issues in a few days. "Then I want solutions." Amsalem said.