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Settlers File for Payments

July 08, 2005|From Associated Press

JERUSALEM — Hundreds of Jewish settlers took a first step Thursday toward cooperating with the Israeli government's plan to evacuate the Gaza Strip by filing forms seeking compensation.

A representative of the settlers said families began the process of seeking payments as a kind of insurance policy, but vowed to continue to fight the pullout, scheduled to begin in mid-August.

On Thursday, hundreds of settlers handed in forms requesting detailed assessments of their properties, said Itzik Spiegel, an attorney representing the settlers.

Itzik Ilia, deputy head of the Gaza settler regional council, said the families were submitting the forms because Thursday was the deadline the Supreme Court gave for requesting an assessment.

But, he said, "It will only be a done deal when I leave ... with my family."

Haim Altman, a spokesman for the government administration overseeing compensation, said he was told to expect about 1,000 forms.

An exact number wasn't available at the end of the workday.

Before Thursday, only about 400 Gaza and West Bank families had requested government compensation, and an additional 400 families were in various stages of talks with the government on relocating. In total, about 1,800 families -- approximately 9,000 people -- are to be evacuated from their homes.

Many settlers oppose the plan and have vowed to resist it.

At the same time, they accuse the government of not providing equitable alternative housing solutions and of offering unfair compensation. The government says the settlers' refusal to cooperate is making it difficult to provide them with acceptable housing after the evacuation, although rental units, prefabs and hotel rooms have been reserved.

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