(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert this morning (Tuesday), 17 January 2006, convened a meeting of the Ministerial Disengagement Committee.

The Committee members approved Acting Prime Minister Olmert’s proposal on the implementation of a comprehensive plan to encourage employment: 

* Volunteers will be trained by the Employment Counseling and Training Center in order to accompany and assist evacuees and their families until they find alternate employment. 

* The Industry, Trade and Employment Ministry will implement a plan to encourage employers – who meet certain conditions – to employ evacuees. Assistance given by the state to employers will be 15% of the employees’ average wage costs but not greater than NIS 120,000 for five years. In order to encourage the payment of salaries higher than the minimum wage, it was decided that the state incentives will be given only to those employers who pay a monthly wage of at least NIS 4,500.

* The Industry, Trade and Employment Ministry will publish newspaper advertisements that list in detail the range of professionals looking for work in their fields. Thus, employers from across the country will be able to receive detailed information regarding the supply of workers interested in joining their ranks.

* The Industry, Trade and Employment Ministry will operate several professional training tracks in which the state will pay each evacuee who meets the eligibility requirements and who attends a course, a retraining scholarship of up to NIS 3,000 per month.

* The Committee members decided that the Social Welfare Ministry would direct disabled workers among the evacuees to sheltered employment in Ashkelon.

Regarding education, it was decided that: parents of children who were previously exempt from tuition at public nursery schools and kindergartens due to the location of the community in which they lived will continue to enjoy the same exemption this year. Student evacuees will continue to receive assistance in the form of academic scholarships for 2006. Incentives to teachers will continue, as will assistance given by the Education Ministry in the context of the Karev Plan. 

SELA Disengagement Authority data shows that as of today, approximately 190 families are in hotels. These families are due to move to temporary housing at moshav Amatzia and kibbutz Ein Tzurim within approximately two months. An additional NIS 20 million was approved for financing hotel stays.

The Committee approved continued development, and the construction of public structures and mobile residential structures, at the following temporary residential sites: Yad Binyamin, Ein Tzurim, Nitzan, Yevul, Shomriya, Yated and Magen Shaul.

Acting Prime Minister Olmert said,"As we discuss the disengagement, it is clear to all that this was an historic step. But the hard work is to deal with individual cases. This is a difficult task and I thank Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Ilan Cohen and all those who worked with uncommon dedication. I am aware how this can be a thankless task but all of you are taking the high road and showing compassion for the evacuees and are embracing them on the one hand while taking strict care regarding public funds on the other."