IDF troops will occupy evacuated settler homes following the Gaza pullout, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided Tuesday.
The decision was reached following a warning issued by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz that evacuated settlers may attempt to return to their homes.
In a meeting held at the prime minister’s office in preparation for the disengagement, Disengagement Office Head Yonatan Bassi said it would cost the country between NIS 30 to 40 million (about USD 7 to 9 million) to accommodate the evacuated settlers in hotels until they would move to their new permanent residences.
He said an additional NIS 9 million (about USD 2 million) is needed for the development of new homes and infrastructure for the evacuated settlers.
Sharon ordered the finance ministry to immediately allocate the needed funds.
“The infrastructure for permanent housing must be built in advance, just as we did during the large-scale Aliya (the arrival of Jewish immigrants to Israel),” he said. “The new immigrants, who settled in temporary homes at the time, later turned them into permanent residences.”
Flashback to Sinai pullout
Sharon said he wants to receive additional updates on the progress of the disengagement plan within the next two weeks.
“It is a hard thing to dismantle settlements, and it is a complex and difficult problem,” he said. “It needs to be carried out in coordination with the settlers.”
Housing Minister Yitzhak Herzog said during the meeting the ministry’s main goal is to relocate the evacuated settler families to the south.
A final decision regarding the demolition of the evacuated settler homes following the pullout has not been reached as of yet.
Vice Premier Shimon Peres told Ynet he estimates the settlers’ homes would not be destroyed; he recently convened with Mahmoud el-Abar, a billionaire from Dubai, who offered to purchase the homes after evacuation.
Defense Ministry officials have said they oppose the destruction of evacuated settler homes on grounds that such an act would garner criticism from the international community.
The move is also expected to be opposed by Israelis, as it would serve as a reminder of the destruction of Yamit prior to the transfer of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt as part of the Israel-Egypt peace accord.