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The state will only be paying compensation for August to businesses in the north - in November. Chambers of Commerce president Uriel Lynn warned today that the aid may come too late.

"A delay that long in paying the compensation is grave," Lynn commenced, adding that some of the businesses may collapse in the interim due to the damage suffered during the Lebanon II war.

About a million people, or a sixth of Israel's population, reportedly left the north as Hizbullah barrages of missiles slammed into the towns. On Thursday, Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson hosted a ceremony to sign the compensation arrangement, in the presence of business and labor leaders.

The agreement itself had been held up, with signature delayed twice over squabbling about formulation.

Lynn attacked the ceremony as being wholly gratuitous, and designed solely to advance the image of the participants. The agreement should have been completed in August, he said, immediately after the cease fire came into force, so the northern businesses could have had their compensation paid in September.

haimb@haaretz.co.il