Settlers get generous golden farewell


Source: HLRN, Martin Asser, BBC News website correspondent in Jerusalem

Israel has occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since 1967, and in defiance of international law, it has been colonising large parts of these territories with hundreds of thousands of settlers among the native Palestinian population.

The Disengagement Administration, known by its Hebrew acronym Sela, says it has already got a signed undertaking from 1,127 families to go without being removed by force by the police and army.

That leaves another 600 or so households who have given no such promise.

“Formally, there is no contact with these people,” says Sela spokesman Haim Altman.
“Informally, we are in contact with most… but it is very sensitive and the settlers we are talking to want total privacy.”

It is sensitive because what Sela is offering settlers, as an alternative to being dragged bodily from their homes, is a financial compensation package.

One of the difficulties is that this financial package is aimed at people who see their settlements as the fulfilment of either divine or political destiny, to secure what they see as the whole “Land of Israel” for the Jewish people.

Compensation calculation

Leaving aside the ideological gap, there is little question of the generosity of the deal paid to evacuees, many of them beneficiaries of government subsidies for settling the land.
An average family can expect to receive about $250,000 (£140,000) compensation, depending on house size, the number of children and length of residence in the occupied territories.

Family Compensation Package:

$1,000 per square metre of home
$50,000 for land around home
$1,000 per head for each year of residence (children included)
Moving costs up to $5,000
Half a year’s salary if made redundant
Two years’ rent following relocation
$30,000 loan for staying in new home

On top of that there are removals expenses, two years’ free rent, redundancy compensation and what Mr Altman calls a “bonus” of $30,000 if the family stays put in a community being established to house them.