Bassi: Settler Lawyers Hold Up Requests for New Housing

Disengagement Authority head tells gov't officials attorneys of evacuees withhold application forms.

Head of the Sela Disengagement Authority Yoantan Bassi warned government officials that attorneys representing settlers have been withholding their clients' application forms for lodgings at the Nitzan temporary housing project, Israel Radio reported on Sunday.

According to Israel Radio Bassi said at a meeting with director generals of the ministries involved in the disengagement held last week, that as a result of the actions of settler lawyers the new site will not accommodate all the families expecting to be housed there until their new permanent homes are built.

Hundreds of families believe that they secured a lodging at the Nitzan site by filling out the necessary forms, whereas the forms have not been transferred to the relevant authorities, Bassi told the officials.

Bassi made it clear that the government may face a situation whereby more families signed up for lodging at the site than it can possibly accommodate. The Sela chief said that Yitzhak Meron, one of the attorneys representing evacuated settlers of the Legal Forum for Gush Katif as well as other attorneys do not pass over to the government information about families seeking to relocate to the Nitzan site.

Disengagement Authority officials refused to comment about the meeting saying they do not respond to questions related to meetings closed to the media.

Embarrassing the governmentUnspecified sources told Israel Radio, however, that the attorneys representing settlers are withholding the information from the government in order to create an embarrassing situation.

Government officials admitted that if this were true then the government is indeed to expect great embarrassment - at the moment of truth many families that signed up for the project may discover that they do not have lodgings at the Nitzan site.

Attorney Yitzahk Meron of the Legal Forum for Gush Katif said in response that the government's conduct in relation to the housing solutions is clumsy. "The government is trying to project over-confidence, because instead of concentrating on the solution itself, it offered the worst solutions imaginable and that we criticize," Meron said.

"The solution of the caravan park is an extremely bad solution. But if the government thinks this is the only solution it can come up with - we are not even offering [Gush Katif] residents to accept this solution," he said.

The settler representative also said that the legal forum petitioned the High Court of Justice that backed the forum's allegations against the government. The court ruled "the government should provide settlers with a housing solution equivalent to their current housing conditions," Meron told Israel Radio.

"The government has created this mess with its own hands, it told the public there were available housing solutions while knowing the necessary solutions are not available and this created the mess," he said.

When asked, attorney Meron admitted that Gush Katif settlers have not granted a power of attorney to the the legal forum to act on their behalf and that the forum has been acting on its own accord.