About 1,000 evacuated settlers have remained unemployed following the pullout, with 400 of them being former employees of the Gush Katif regional council until recently. This according to data presented to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon by National Religious Party Chairman Zevulun Orlev, who now demands the government provide solutions for the new jobless.
"I respectfully approach you on a matter that goes beyond the profound disagreement we share over the pullout," Orlev wrote to Sharon. "My close association and connections with the people of Gush Katif revealed to me that the problem of employment is getting increasingly difficult with each day that goes by."
"It goes without saying the employment bears great importance, not only as a means of providing for a family, but also in order to maintain stability within the family and the community," Orlev added.
Orlev stated that he is aware of the problematic situation in the Israeli job market, and he knows that finding jobs fitting the specific capabilities of the people of Gush Katif may prove a difficult task.
He therefore proposed that government offices, national corporations and companies, regional councils and academic institutions be instructed to hire the unemployed evacuees according to their skills and qualifications, for a period of three years.
According to the proposal, these positions will be subsidized by the State to the tune of 75 percent in the first year of employment, by 60 percent in the second year, and by 50 percent in the third year.
'Government should prove commitment to evacuees'
"Such a move will demonstrate national responsibility for the employment of the people of Gush Katif, and will serve as an expression of the State's commitment to those it has decided to evacuate from their homes, thus taking away their livelihood," Orlev stated.
Orlev asked Sharon to hold a discussion on the subject, and inform him of the decision "as soon as possible."
Eliezer Orbach, a father of five who was evacuated from Gush Katif, is one of the people who may benefit from Orlev's proposal. Orbach has worked in the Gush Katif regional council for the last 17 years, and is now staying at the Hyatt hotel in Jerusalem with his family.
"I am 47-years-old and have no idea whether anyone will hire me," he said. "If the prime minister accepts Orlev's proposal, it will be a blessed occasion. It would definitely help me and my family."
Orbach said he is currently dealing with a lot of pressure. "I don't know where we will be staying temporarily, or where our permanent residence will be. All this obviously makes it very difficult for me to find a job," he said.