The Gaza settlement of Netzarim is scheduled to be evacuated on Monday, one of the last in the pullout that began last week. In the interest of keeping Netzarim residents together, most will move to dormitories of a college in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, where they will live for at least a few months, said Yigal Cohen-Orgad, the college’s chairman.
“When they appealed to us over the weekend, we were happy to give them the option of moving in,” Cohen-Orgad told Israel Radio.
It was not immediately clear whether the Netzarim families would remain in the West Bank permanently, but the secretary of Netzarim official, Eliahu Ozen, implied they would, according to the Yediot Ahronot newspaper.
When asked whether they would stay in the West Bank for good, Ozen replied: “We are a community with a very strong ideological background and we would like a mission with a clear ideological purpose, so this idea is being considered.”
Israel has committed under the terms of the US-backed “road map” peace plan not to expand Jewish settlements.
Settlers prepare to move out
The deal outlining the move was ironed out secretly, because Netzarim residents intend to oppose the efforts to move them on Monday, Yediot reported. Netzarim’s rabbi told residents they could begin packing their belongings to move, Yediot said.
Other settlers who have been evacuated from Gaza have moved on their own into temporary housing in the West Bank.
While Prime Minister Ariel Sharon hopes Israel’s pullout from all 21 Gaza settlements will cement Israel’s hold on Ariel and other major settlement blocks in the West Bank, he has said no new West Bank settlements would be set up as a result of the withdrawal.