The never-ending evacuation
The never-ending problems of the absorption and inflated cost of the evacuation may deter against further evacuations.
The evacuees of Gush Katif, who are having a hard time putting their lives back together, cannot be envied. Their situation is similar to that of middle-aged new immigrants, although they are not confronted by a language barrier and each has received some $500,000 in compensation. The main difficulty in absorbing them stems from the fact that they left behind an economic paradise, which was subsidized by the state, and most lack the professional skills needed for a free-market economy. In this, they are different from the Russian immigrants who were successfully absorbed in Israel.
Why are the evacuees unable to rebuild the businesses they left behind in Gush Katif, where they acquired their professional knowledge and experience? The first reason is that their businesses were not profitable even in Gush Katif. The second reason is they no longer enjoy cheap Palestinian labor, nearly free water, free land, subsidized electricity and tremendous tax benefits. The Gush Katif evacuees' lobby in the Knesset is trying to acquire even more compensation, each time for something else. It is very likely that this lobby will succeed, considering settlers' lobby victories of the past.
A new campaign related to the Gush Katif evacuees has recently begun: In addition to the demand for full pension benefits starting at age 46, they want more compensation for every child born in Gush Katif. In early July, a plan was presented to establish a new community called Mirsham in the Lachish region, for some of the Kfar Darom evacuees. Another new community, Givat Hazan, is intended to settle some of the residents of Neveh Dekalim. This is because of the evacuees' insistence that they not be absorbed into other communities in the area where permits have already been issued for the construction of thousands of new homes. Unfortunately, the evacuees do not wish to be assimilated, not even in communities with other evacuees. Each group selects several dozen families for its own dream community - built at the state's expense.
The position of the finance minister and environmental organizations is that new communities should not be constructed; rather, existing towns should be expanded. This is not merely in order to avoid damaging nature, but because of the enormous cost of building infrastructures for several dozen families. The response to the claim that the evacuees have been stuck in prefabricated homes since 2005 and that the state is behind in building permanent housing, is that it is very difficult to satisfy the wishes of the evacuees. For example, Avi Farhan is leading a group of 28 families who insist on living in Givat Olga.
The Lachish region is covered in fields and hills that attract residents of the crowded Dan region in the winter. These are the same people who pay high mortgages for small apartments, who have never received grants or benefits, who never have lived in villas that ranged from 250 to 450 square meters, and who were also not compensated for being evacuated. They, too, deserve nature and vistas.
The suffering of the Gush Katif evacuees is similar to that of the British evacuated from India, who had to leave behind mansions with servants to begin their life anew in a small apartment in Manchester. This is the price a state pays for exceeding both its borders and its logic. The never-ending problems of the absorption and inflated cost of the evacuation may deter against further evacuations, and perhaps this is the reason for this endless saga.