Netanyahu: Shorten bureaucracy
Photo: AFP
Yishai: Press lynched me
Photo: Tsafrir Abayov

PM orders immediate compensation of fire victims

Netanyahu awards $690 to each home while Yishai accuses Treasury of evading responsibility

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Monday with director-generals of various government ministries to discuss the compensation to be awarded to those whose property was damaged by the blaze that ravaged the Carmel forest this weekend.


Netanyahu ordered the Finance Ministry to award an immediate sum of NIS 2,500 ($690) to the owners of each home that sustained damage in order to facilitate the purchase of necessities such as clothing and school supplies.


The allowance is intended to assist with immediate needs, and Netanyahu's office has stressed that it will only be given to people who cannot return home within the coming month.


The prime minister also ordered the director-generals to acquaint themselves with the reality on the ground in order to provide quick solutions and "shorten the bureaucracy" homeowners may otherwise run into in attempting to secure the compensation they deserve.


"We have three missions," Netanyahu said. "To return home those evacuated from the fire area and take care of those harmed, rebuild homes that were destroyed and reconstruct infrastructure, and rehabilitate the Carmel. Two of these missions are immediate."


Comparing the evacuees to those removed from Gush Katif during the Gaza withdrawal, he said that in this case "our treatment must be different".


Interior Minister Eli Yishai also discussed "shortening bureaucracy" during a visit to the Druze town of Usfiya, which was greatly harmed by the fire. Yishai answered the residents' fears that they would not receive compensation from the state anytime soon.


"I will personally take charge of this battle with the Finance Ministry in order to shorten the bureaucracy on the way to rehabilitating the village," Yishai said.


The minister also addressed the issue of his personal responsibility for firefighting in Israel, as the minister in charge of supervising firefighting in Israel. Answering questions of whether he would resign, he said it was not the people demanding his resignation but rather the press "lynching" him.


He then accused the Finance Ministry of stalling funds meant for firefighters. "Unfortunately we live in a country in which Treasury personnel are free of responsibility while responsible public officials lack authority," he said.


Moment of silence at Knesset

Meanwhile, the Knesset held a special hearing on the fire and its consequences, which opened with a moment of silence for its 42 casualties. "Those who died battling the horrible blaze are 42 fallen soldiers in Israel's wars," said Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin.


A number of MKs called for the resignation of Eli Yishai. "This fire exposed failures of Israel's governments throughout the generations, but the prime minister and other ministers must not be allowed to wash their hands of this. This disaster happened on their watch," said MK Ze'ev Boim (Kadima).


MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) called on Yishai to resign, and for the establishment of an investigation committee.


MK Anastassia Michaeli (Yisrael Beiteinu) spoke of the allegations of arson. "I belong to a party that believes loyalty to the state is a condition for citizenship. Anyone who engages in arson maliciously cannot be said to be loyal, and in any other country citizenship would be revoked from such a person and he would be charged with treason and attempted murder," she said.


Ronen Medzini contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 12.06.10, 13:03
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