By Nadav Shragai, HAARETZ
The delay in finding housing solutions for settlers evacuated from the Gaza Strip has thus far cost the state about $1 billion, a new study states.
Yet even this estimate is based on the assumption that all the evacuees will start building permanent houses within a year. If not, the costs could rise even higher.
The study was conducted by Professor Ezra Sadan, a former Finance Ministry director general, and Professor Yakir Plessner, a former deputy governor of the Bank of Israel.
The study notes that while those evacuated from Sinai under the peace treaty with Egypt received compensation of about $2 million per person, those evacuated from Gaza received only about $500,000 per person. Sadan and Plessner argue that this “stinginess” boomeranged on the government, because it caused most evacuees to opt for “communal resettlement” – meaning new housing built by the government – rather than relocating as individuals.
Had the initial compensation been more generous, the study argues, the evacuees could have afforded to relocate their communities on their own – which they would have done far more efficiently than the state is doing in their stead. This, in turn, would have enabled them to return to work more quickly. Instead, the fact that so many are still in temporary housing has delayed their reentry into the job market.
The study estimates that the lost work has cost the state some $615 million, while additional payments to the evacuees to finance their extended stay in temporary housing have cost some $225 million. In addition, the Disengagement Administration (Sela) costs the state some $40 million a year. Thus in total, the delay in resettling the evacuees has cost the state almost $1 billion, the study