Pinui Pitzui (compensation for evacuation) was an idea proposed by the far-left party Meretz as incentive to the Jews of Gush Katif: anyone who leaves his home before the deadline date, would be compensated amply. The assumption behind this suggestion was that most settlers chose life in the disputed territories because of cheap housing and government subsidies. In the end very few settlers took the bait.
A bill proposed on Tuesday by National Union chairman Yaacov Katz (Ketzaleh) will require the government to build new homes and infrastructure for residents of outposts and settlements before they are demolished. For a party so strongly identified with the ideals of settling everywhere in Eretz Israel but especially in the “disputed territories,” the bill sounded an awful lot like Pinui Pitzui.
Co-sponsored by five Haredi MKs – and so far not by Katz’s own faction members – the bill, titled “Preservation of the Rights of Evacuees 5772-2012,” is intended to “maintain the basic human rights and the fabric of life of a group of citizens slated to be evacuated.”
The bill states that an evacuation of a large group (20 or more housing units) can only be done after a new location has been determined in which the evacuees can continue their lives in the manner to which they had grown accustomed. This means that the new location must have an infrastructure in place, as well as comparable education and religious service to those they leave behind. The new location must also offer employment for everyone that is comparable in terms of character, pay, and commuting time. Otherwise the evacuees are entitled to unemployment compensation for 24 months.
This is the famous “key for key” exchange which Gush Katif settlers were demanding at the time, meaning – instead of giving us money, give us the key to a new home and a new life that our comparable to what we are asked to give up – and then we’ll give you the key to our home.
In addition, the Finance Ministry must have in place the entire amount slated for reparations to the evacuees, above and beyond the arrangements for resettling.
“If, after we’ve objected and fought and demonstrated, and, God forbid, lost, and the state of Israel has decided to kick Jews out of their home,” Katz’s spokesman Harel Cohen, told the Jewish Press, “and, by the way, not only Jews, anyone, it cannot do it before it built them a home elsewhere, to start their lives anew.”
Cohen said the bill intends to prevent a repeat of the terrible injustice that Sharon has done to the Gush Katif evacuees, about which he says there’s a wall-to-wall consensus – as seven years after their uprooting, most of the evacuees still do not live in permanent homes.
I told him that to an outside observer the bill looked like the foundation for a wholesale transfer of Jews from Judea and Samaria. Cohen denied this in no uncertain terms, saying the idea is to force the government to build a new Gish Katif before it takes down an old one.
It certainly appears that the right and the settlers are maturing and getting used to being associated with the ruling majority, and learning to play politics. It also explains why five members of Shas and one from United Torah Judaism are co-sponsoring the bill, as they could probably teach their national religious brethren a thing or two about exacting a price for their cooperation with government.
Cohen told me that the dean of Beit El Yeshiva and Katz’s mentor Rabbi Zalman Melamed was pushing this legislation as far back as a year ago, and at the time even Katz had difficulty with the concept – much as his three faction colleagues still do, apparently, today.
“It sounded to him like a conditional agreement” for evacuation, Cohen explained. But a year later, having agonized over the arduous process of losing the Ulpana Hill neighborhood at the High Court without even getting their opportunity to argue back, Ketzalaeh and everyone else in Beit El can certainly envision the worst happening again.