(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon this evening (Monday), 22 August 2005, convened a meeting of the Ministerial Disengagement Committee. At the beginning of the meeting, the Prime Minister made the following remarks:

“The objective of all Government ministries is the resettling of the settlers in their new communities.  This must be done as quickly as possible. We already said at the beginning of the week that this is the most important mission. All ministries in my Government must act immediately to dedicate maximum effort and management to the rebuilding. I know that much work has already been done but this task is now before us and it must be carried out as quickly as possible. Every ministry is committed to doing this in the immediate term, while the settlers are in hotels, both temporarily until the communities are built and out of a full commitment until the permanent communities are built. The treatment must be personal for each family and for each community on every issue: education, social welfare, employment, agriculture, compensation and housing. I want to tell you not to wait until the evacuated settlers come to you, go to them immediately. I want you to see this as a national mission. We are now being tested regarding the degree to which we succeed in dealing with the evacuees as quickly as possible; therefore, see this as your main current mission.”

Defense Ministry Deputy Director-General Victor Bar-Gil reported that as of now, approximately 1,000 containers have been brought into the evacuated areas and approximately 1,000 workers are helping to pack equipment.

Interior Ministry Planning Authority Director Shamai Asaf briefed ministers on the details of the Nitzanim Plan, which is spread over two areas: The area north of Ashkelon and an expansion of the existing community of Nitzan. The Nitzanim Plan includes approximately 1,600 permanent housing units that will be built in accordance with the number of families who declare their interest in establishing a home in its framework. Asaf said that, “This plan provides a full response to each group of settlers that is interested in maintaining its community character. It is an opportunity for groups of settlers to join us and take part in the detailed planning.”

Agriculture Minister Director-General Yossi Yishai reported that the evacuation of agricultural equipment from the Gaza Strip is in its final stages. The dismantling of the last three greenhouses from Kfar Darom, Netzarim and Atzmona began today. He added that moving the dairy from Atzmona to Be’er Tuvia is underway; approximately 800 cows are due to be moved by the weekend. Prime Minister Sharon instructed him to be in personal contact with each farmer and said: “You must be in personal contact with the farmers and work with each one privately.”

Education, Culture and Sports Ministry Southern District Director Amira Haim said that approximately 20 educational centers are being operated on the ground in order to accompany parents and students. She added that student registration centers, which are open from 10:00-18:00, are currently active in every hotel in which evacuated settlers are lodging.  She said that 882 students have already been placed in alternate schools, that approximately 1,543 additional students have reported as to what schools they intend to register at, and that there are approximately 800 other students whose parents have yet to pass along the necessary details in order to register them at school. She said that ministry personnel are working to establish a new school in Ashkelon in order to absorb – at this stage – approximately 250 students from Kfar Darom and Atzmona.

The Director-General of Vice Premier Shimon Peres’s Office, Efrat Duvdevani, said that an interministerial task force was carrying out staff work in order to absorb new residents in the Negev. The task force is holding meetings with Negev local council heads who are interested in expanding their communities and, at the same time, is in contact with the settlers.

Committee members decided on the relocation of approximately 150 mobile structures that were formerly located in the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria. They will be refurbished and connected to the necessary infrastructures in order to house settlers on a temporary basis.