The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has strongly praised Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for taking long-overdue steps to assist people uprooted from Gaza by the unilateral withdrawal undertaken by the Sharon government in 2005, in particular, the former residents of Gush Katif. Doron Ben Shlomi, head of the Council for Gush Katif Evictees, said that there is a meaningful change in attitude between the Olmert government and the present government under Netanyahu and that now there are frequent meetings with Gush Katif representatives and we should be thankful for this. Still, there are some problems that must be addressed. One is the fact that this mission has yet to be defined as an urgent national priority.
Israeli Knesset member Uri Ariel (National Union) said that the change in the leadership of the Sela Administration, which was created to assist the evictees, was a good one and that there is a feeling… of a change. The Knesset Finance Committee chairman, MK Ofir Akunis, who is overseeing the matter of the evictees, said, I am pleased with the change for the better that is felt on the ground as well, and also with the establishment of a forum of directors after I requested this from the Director of the Prime Minister’s Office but there is still a lot of work ahead of us. In the next discussion we will talk about the matter of employment and together with the Children’s Rights Committee, about the treatment of the evicted children and youths.
The Director of the Prime Ministers Office, Eyal Gabbai, said that from the moment that the government was sworn in, we have been dealing with the matter intensively. We have dedicated much time to understanding the picture and to frequent meetings with the evacuees representatives …We appointed a new head of the Sela administration, Bentzi Lieberman, and we added a year to the administration’s span of activity. We have approved a series of decisions in the government and the relocation agreements have been brought to finalization. I feel a true and sincere will on behalf of the evacuees to reach a settlement (Gil Ronen, Katif Evictees say New Govt Treats them Better, Israel National News, October 15, 2009).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, We applaud the Netanyahu government for making up for the tragic and irresponsible neglect of the thousands of innocent Jews uprooted from Gaza and northern Samaria during the 2005 unilateral withdrawal. It appears now that steps are being taken to assist the Gaza evictees so that their travails may be ended and their lives restored to the productiveness and security they enjoyed before the withdrawal. We sincerely hope this is the case and commend the Netanyahu government for taking the first of several, necessary remedial steps to assist those uprooted from Gaza four years ago.
The ZOA has spoken out before on the suffering of the people uprooted in 2005 by the unilateral withdrawal plan which, as we anticipated at the time, would bring neither peace nor security to Israel. As we said in July 2008, not enough has been said or done by any American Jewish organization about the deplorable conditions and treatment meted out to these guiltless, law-abiding and pioneering Israelis whose livelihoods and very homes were needlessly sacrificed in pursuit of misconceived and false promises of greater security, peace and international support for Israel. It is especially incumbent upon the Israeli government and all those who supported this disastrous unilateral withdrawal to do their utmost for the Jews who were most drastically affected by it. Regrettably, there has been neglect and for the most part silence. This is not something of which the Israeli government or any genuine Zionist can feel proud. We hope that this marks the beginning of sustained and effective efforts to restore the lives and livelihoods so drastically affected by their uprooting in 2005.