(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Ilan Cohen, last night (Sunday), 17 April 2005, convened a meeting of the directors-general forum to discuss the various ministries’ preparations ahead of the implementation of the Disengagement Plan.

Ministry of Social Affairs Director-General Dov Goldberg said that his ministry, in cooperation with the Gaza Coast Regional Council and the Samaria Regional Council, is operating special centers in order to assist the local populations in light of the security and diplomatic situations. A professional team from the Ministry of Social Affairs has mapped special populations for whom the change is expected to require special emotional, social and economic preparations. According ministry data, approximately 100 special needs persons live in the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria; they will receive pinpoint care during the evacuation period. “Representatives of the Ministry of Social Affairs are in contact with these people; apparently, this group will move separately,” Director-General Goldberg said. At the same time, preparatory work is being carried out among the local and regional authorities that are expected to absorb new residents. These authorities will receive extra social workers, and budgets for financing both activities designed to assist in establishing new communities and special services for children and the elderly.

Interior Ministry Deputy Director-General Yitzhak Black explained that disbanding the Gaza Coast Regional Council requires considerable preparations, in the context of arrangements will be made for Council employees, the Council’s accounts and debts will be audited and a survey will be made of its assets. Moreover, Interior Ministry representatives will be dispatched to the various communities in order to assist their residents in changing their addresses. In this context, Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Cohen said that, “We don’t want the people who have to move to be shunted back and forth between the various ministries. We must do our utmost to provide the best possible services to the residents.”

Agriculture Ministry Director-General Yossi Yishai explained that his ministry was concentrating on moving agricultural operations from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria to other areas around the country. An Agriculture Ministry team is currently holding contacts with farmers in order to devise both temporary and permanent solutions that are acceptable to both sides. He added that the Agriculture Ministry Veterinary Service is currently formulating possible alternatives regarding moving the animals currently located in the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria. He said that these were mainly cows, chickens and pets, adding that the manner in which they are moved will be in line with the medical recommendations.

Construction and Housing Ministry Director-General Shmuel Abuav said that his ministry is currently formulating a comprehensive solution to the issue of housing for the residents, both in the long and immediate terms, including the construction of permanent housing, temporary structures and rent subsidies. He referred to the possibility of adding 400 housing units to the community of Nitzan, and to other possibilities. He stressed that advancing each alternative depends on cooperation from Gaza Strip and northern Samaria residents.

Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Cohen said that the directors-general would be required to submit details of their respective ministries’ progress ahead of the implementation of the Disengagement Plan to the ministerial committee chaired by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the coming days.