Olmert Called Liar After Claiming Disengagement Compensation 'Very Generous'

Ehud Olmert was defiant yesterday during a special Knesset deliberation on the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, saying he did not intend to apologize for the pullout or for the compensation package to the settlers.

The special gathering was imposed on the prime minister by the demand of at least 40 MKs that he appear before them to discuss the disengagement on the first anniversary of the state comptroller's report on Gush Katif.

"The compensation offered is above and beyond any previous precedent," Olmert said.

"I do not think there has been a subject about which the government made so many decisions and was very generous about it. The demand for the evacuation of communities as a whole is a major difference from the individual evacuation that took place in the Sinai," he added.

However, MK Zvi Hendel (National Union), formerly a resident of Gush Katif, was highly critical of the prime minister. "This is a lie," he charged.

When Olmert said that "mistakes were made by all sides," Hendel was caustic: "I did not cause the death of Jews."

Olmert accused the opposition of demanding the government overcome bureaucratic delays in irregular ways.

He said that in other instances the government is blamed for "corruption and distortion of norms... and suddenly [the same MKs] are proposing to ignore the regulations, as if they were not there. Stop with this hypocrisy," Olmert said.

Olmert promised to ask the Justice Ministry to explore the possibility of expunging the record of youths who participated in protests against the disengagement, so they could enlist in elite army units.

For their part, MKs warned that unless the charges against youths opposed to the disengagement were dropped, they would put forth a bill.

The proposal came from MK Amira Dotan (Kadima), who chairs the Knesset subcommittee dealing with the evacuees of the disengagement.

Lawmaker Reuven Rivlin, who authored the bill - proposed by National Religious Party Knesset member Yitzhak Levy - states that following national traumas like the evacuation of Gush Katif, the state needs to make a gesture to quieten, if it cannot heal, the pain of the people.