Ministers Nix Bid to Compensate Settlers Who Choose to Evacuate

Minister Ayalon appeals ministerial c'tee vote, wants private proposal brought before cabinet plenum.

The Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs last week voted down a private proposal which would grant economic compensation to settlers who voluntarily evacuate their homes in contested areas east of the Green Line.

The proposal will be brought before the cabinet plenum, due to an appeal by Minister Ami Ayalon over the committee's decision.

According to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's recent policy, the areas in question are designated to be transferred to Palestinian control under the framework of a final status agreement.

The details of the initiative were recently brought to the attention of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The Prime Minister's Office responded by saying it did not recognize the proposal, adding that such a bill could be approved only within the framework of government law and not as a private proposal.

The proposal was signed by 16 members of Knesset from the Labor Party and Meretz, headed by MKs Avshalom Vilan and Collette Avital. The two MKs are the founders of the "One Home" organization, which pushes for settlers in the West Bank to voluntarily evacuate their homes.

Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog was the sole minister to support the proposal during the committee vote.

Minister Ayalon, who was among the initiators of the proposal but does not sit on the ministerial committee, told Haaretz that opposition to the bid would turn the settlers that do want to evacuate their homes into hostages.

According to the proposal, the state would repossess the homes of settlers who voluntarily agreed to evacuate and move west of the Green Line. The settlers would then receive compensation, the sum of which would be determined according to the value and size of their new housing. Then, following a final status agreement, the state could sell the homes.

The "One Home" organization estimates that each family would receive between $150,000 ? 250,000 in compensation.