Enough Already

The settlers are making fools of us, and the immense waste of taxpayer funds must end. It is time to inform the dear settlers that the state will no longer be their nanny. It will not decide for them where they will live and what they will do for a living.

A few days ago, Sharon returned to being the "bulldozer." He posed for a photo out in the field, in the sand at Nitzanim, banged his fist on the table and scolded anyone within earshot: "Build already, build, start working, there isn't any time."

No one asked him how much this unplanned construction would cost, how much the temporary villas would cost or who would pay for it. Maybe it would come at the expense of the people with prostate and colon cancer who appealed to the High Court of Justice on Tuesday because the government is not prepared to supply them with medication, claiming the till is empty?

The original sin lies in Sharon's decision, which has received the endorsement of Benjamin Netanyahu, to remove disengagement from the budgetary framework. Soon as there are no limits, the boundaries are rent asunder. Indeed, immediately after the decision was taken, Sharon added another NIS 200 million to the compensation. Then came some fine gentlemen like Beiga Shochat and Haim Oron, who enlarged the compensation by another NIS 800 million.

At first, government representatives said that under no circumstances would the government agree to construction in the Nitzanim area and the establishment of a new settlement. Now, they are already prepared to harm the unique nature reserve and to build a new settlement, 40 minutes from Tel Aviv, on the beach.

However, the settlers are unwilling to move temporarily into the many empty apartments in the southern part of the country and Ashkelon. This doesn't suit them. They are demanding special temporary housing, which means an immense waste of public funds. Specifically, they want grandiose "caravillas," at a cost of $110,000 each, which they want to position on the outskirts of the designated plot of land in Nitzan, no less. And of course, when the time comes, the "temporary" caravilla will remain in their possession. Thus, they will receive double compensation for the homes they leave behind.

And they're demanding double compensation for the land, as well. The Disengagement Authority, encouraged by the Prime Minister's Office, has offered the farmers of Gush Katif - on top of the regular compensation - high-quality land throughout Israel.

Attorney General Meni Mazuz was astounded to learn of this excessive request, and ruled against acceding to it. But there is still hope. Based on the existing offers, besides ordinary dunam-for-dunam compensation, the Gush farmers are to receive additional farmland near their new homes. In other words, in this case as well, the returning settlers would receive double compensation for the land.

The upshot is that at first, we were told that the entire withdrawal would cost about NIS 5 billion, later on it rose to NIS 6 billion, and now we are talking about NIS 7 billion - and this does not include the cost of the additional land. The billions flow with ease when the subject is something other than cancer sufferers or Holocaust survivors.

In the morning, they are interviewed in the media and declare they will not withdraw; in the evening, their lawyers meet with government representatives and argue over every shekel. In this way they carry out sophisticated negotiations with a flabby government and a prime minister who has lost his sense of proportion.

Given this total eclipse, not a single cabinet minister is willing to stand up and say that which every citizen understands: The settlers are making fools of us, and the immense waste of taxpayer funds must end. It is time to inform the dear settlers that the state will no longer be their nanny. It will not decide for them where they will live and what they will do for a living.

They are entitled to financial compensation according to law, so let them take it and do with it whatever their heart desires. They can buy a farm, agricultural land or a house anywhere in Israel. There are real-estate agents, there are apartments, there are farms, there is land. Let them come and settle in existing places, along with the rest of the citizens of Israel - without temporary housing, without caravillas and without the Disengagement Authority.

Another lesson should be learned from the commander of the Shimshon Police District, who called together all the policemen who live in the Gaza Strip's Jewish settlements and informed them they would have to evacuate their homes by July 20.

This is precisely how the government should act with the other 7,500 residents of Gush Katif. Inform them they have to withdraw alone, without soldiers, without policemen and without dramas unfolding in front of cameras.

For those who do not understand, the government would announce that the IDF is leaving the Gaza Strip between July 20 and August 15. Let them draw the conclusions. Without the IDF, they would not be such heroes.