May 24, 2005
The Cabinet, in its session of 15 days ago, decided to offer the farmers of Jewish Gaza one of three alternatives: land of equivalent size in the Negev or Galilee; up to 40 dunams (approx. 10 acres) of land elsewhere in Israel; or financial subsidy in purchasing land elsewhere in Israel.
Mazuz nullified the latter two alternatives, saying that as presently worded, they stand in opposition to the Evacuation/Compensation Law. The Cabinet will have to reformulate the proposals and submit them again to Mazuz for his approval.
The only alternative that Mazuz left intact was the first one, namely, “plot for plot” in the Negev or Galilee. A list of available plots of land was to have been prepared by the Israel Lands Administration for the Disengagement Authority by May 13, and then to have been given to the farmers. No such list has yet been submitted.
Mazuz’s decision leaves the Gush Katif residents in total bewilderment as to their future. Avner Shimoni, head of the Gaza Coast Regional Council, said today, “This merely proves that the government has no idea what to do with us, and the entire disengagement will not come to pass.”
Presented with claims that it was the residents’ fault for not talking with the government, Shimoni said, “The government wants to throw its citizens out of their homes and farms, so let it prepare a plan for what to do with them. As far as we’re concerned, we’re staying right here.”
Yossi Tzarfati, head of the Agricultural Committee in the community of Atzmonah, said, “The Attorney-General is debasing himself and the government, because what the government voted to approve is not monetary compensation, but rather something else: telling the farmers to go themselves, under restrictive conditions, and look for alternate lands that the government itself cannot find. The proof is that the government has not yet released its list of available lands – because there apparently aren’t any! But have no fear: the farmers will continue to raise and export the best agricultural produce for many years to come.”
“A normal country can’t expel its citizens and farmers so humiliatingly without finding them solutions,” Tzarfati told Arutz-7 today. “It’s impossible to find these solutions in such a short time. A normal person does not throw out his old worn-out shoes until he finds a replacement – but apparently our government, relating to us as old shoes, doesn’t work that way.”