Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon said on Saturday that the Labor party and Kadima should push forward a plan for evacuation-compensation for West Bank settlers living east of the separation fence. According to Ramon, this would prove to the Palestinians and the international community that Israel is serious about achieving peace.
The initiative is intended to provide a framework by which settlers living in West Bank communities excluded from the fence can move out of their homes in return for financial compensation without having to wait for the implementation of permanent arrangement between Israelis and Palestinians.
During a seminar hosted by the One House movement, Ramon said that "when the right-wing government under the leadership of Shas and the Likud dictated the path of the fence, it decided that in practice everything beyond the fence would no longer be under Israeli sovereignty."
He added that "the Right is always accusing us of relinquishing property. We're not relinquishing any property, but rather (we're letting go of) a burden – a heavy burden on our existence as a Jewish and democratic state, on our legitimacy in the international community and on our status in the whole world and in the international arena."
Ramon attacked Labor party Chairman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, saying he was not helping to push the legislation through. "Kadima did not raise the banner of evacuation-compensation. In the Labor party, which did raise this banner, I don't feel a bit of any pressure from demand (for the measure).
"Except for one single time when Barak said in a government meeting that the Labor party is for evacuation-compensation and that was two months ago – it was a one-time remark. I think that it is fitting for the Labor party to implement its promise to constituents," he said.
The deputy prime minister said that a recent consultation of surveys indicated that 70,000 settlers would agree to be relocated under the evacuation-compensation plan.
The plan was first brought up by members of the One House movement. It was first discussed at the political level by former Defense Minister Amir Peretz. Ramon later took the issue up after his return to the government. Two months ago, Defense Minister Barak suggested that the matter should be looked into.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has announced that he would consider the initiative.