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Friday, July 25, 2008

Making a mountain out of a molehill

Friday's New York Times takes Israel to task for its decision to build 22 (count 'em) homes for displaced Jews from the Gaza Strip in the Jordan Valley village of Maskiot (Hat Tip: Lance K.). The decision to build in Maskiot comes just days after the Knesset discussed opening a State Commission of Inquiry into the 'resettlement' of the Gaza Strip's Jewish refugees. The Jewish refugees were expelled from their homes three years ago next month. More than 50% are still unemployed and more than 80% don't have permanent housing.
The Knesset State Control Committee will vote next week on a proposal to establish a state commission of inquiry to examine the paper trail of the funds earmarked for those evacuated during 2005's disengagement from the Gaza Strip and part of northern Samaria, MK Amira Dotan (Kadima) said Wednesday.


In a statement released to the media, the Disengagement Authority and the Prime Minister's Office said that they both planned to cooperate with the committee or in fact any group that planned to investigate the treatment of the evacuees.

But the Authority warned that it also expected any investigatory body would also explore "the actions of the parliamentarians that made false promises to the evacuees and in so doing, delayed the process."

In a press conference held Tuesday, the Director-General of the Prime Minister's Office Ra'anan Dinur cautioned the media against false statements that would be made by parliamentarians with respect to the treatment of the evacuees.

A state commission of inquiry - appointed at the behest of the Knesset's State Control Committee - is the highest level of investigative committee that can be established.


On Tuesday it was revealed that only 7 percent to 8% of the evacuees have begun building permanent homes, according to statistics released by the Prime Minister's Office on Tuesday.

Out of 24 new communal sites where the ex-Gaza residents will live, work is ongoing at only seven, PMO director-general Ra'anan Dinur said.

Looking back over the past four years of the Disengagement Authority's operation, he acknowledged that "we made mistakes. If you ask if today we would have done it better, yes we would have."

Dinur said he was proud that the authority was now doing its best to provide the evacuees with solutions they wanted.
In this context, the government approved the construction of the 22 homes in the Jordan Valley - in an area that the government sees itself as retaining in a 'final settlement' that is unlikely to ever come - and for this the Times takes it to task.
An Israeli defense committee has approved the construction of 22 homes in a barely populated West Bank settlement, Defense Ministry officials said Thursday. The move appeared to catch some Israeli officials off guard, angered Palestinians and was likely to prompt criticism from the international community as it tried to push forward a long-faltering peace process.

Israeli officials who confirmed the details on condition of anonymity in the absence of any official statement suggested that the approval came in the context of a quiet deal with settler leaders who had agreed to remove some illegal West Bank outposts in return. The officials noted that the building plans were subject to final approval by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Previous plans to build at the settlement, Maskiot, in the Jordan Valley, were frozen in January 2007 by Amir Peretz, then the defense minister, after American officials voiced displeasure. He said he had approved the settlement plan to fulfill his predecessor’s promise to build at the site to resettle some Israelis forced to leave the Gaza Strip in 2005.

Many regard Maskiot as a new settlement, the first to be established in the West Bank in more than a decade, making the decision to build permanent housing there all the more contentious. But Israeli officials and settler leaders hold that Maskiot was established in the 1980s by Nahal, a youth- and agriculture-oriented branch of the army that founded many settlements in Israel and the occupied territories to bolster security, intending to turn them into civilian settlements.

Maskiot has been settled since 1982,” said a Defense Ministry spokeswoman, noting that a religious boarding school had been operating at the site, which was an army base in the 1990s. The ministry’s planning and construction committee published its decision in Israeli newspapers on Wednesday in what the spokeswoman described as a purely bureaucratic step toward “expansion of an existing settlement.”

The new housing is intended for families of a former Gaza settlement, Shirat Hayam. To persuade them to leave Gaza peacefully, the army promised to keep them together. At least eight of the families are already living at Maskiot in trailers.
The Times goes on to list the usual potpourri of 'leaders' who obsess that twenty-two Jewish homes are going to prevent world peace from breaking out even if the Obamessiah is - God forbid - elected. Maybe one of his 'changes' could be to persuade the losers of four wars that they don't get to dictate the terms of 'peace' and don't get to recover for free everything they lost through their own aggression. Nah, that would be too logical.


At 3:39 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

You mean the Gush Katif revanants must be permanently homeless and doomed to wander forever? Yeah, that's exactly the fate (G-d forbid) much of the world wants for Israel.


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