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Yamit Farmers Resist Moves to Dismantle Their Equipment

Yomit area farmers resisted attempts to dismantle their equipment today prior to relocation in Israel. They welded shut the gates at Moshav Priel to prevent the entry of Jewish Agency-employed workers and soldiers sent to protect them while they carried out the dismantling task.

But unlike the militants of the Stop the Withdrawal movement, mostly Orthodox Jews, whom the army removed from Priel last week, the farmers are protesting a compensation bill being drafted by the Knesset’s Finance Committee which spells out the payment they will receive for abandoning their farms when Israel completes its withdrawal from Sinai April 25.

According to Yitzhak Regev, chairman of the Yamit region farmers committee, the provisions of the bill contradict promises made the farmers by government officials. The promises were said to relate to how much of the compensation will be paid in cash and how much in long term government bonds, and what proportion of the payments will be subject to income tax.

The farmers charged that they were not consulted about those provisions, despite personal assurances by Premier Menachem Begin that, they would be before the bill goes to the Knesset plenum for approval. Finance Committee chairman Shlomo Lorincz said today that lawyers representing the Yamit settlers would be shown the draft bill before it is presented to the Knesset. The farmers said they would not permit the removal of any more equipment until the issue is settled.

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