Israeli greenhouses to be preserved after Gaza pullout

Saturday, August 13, 2005

A last minute deal reached Saturday dictates that about 1,000 Israeli settler greenhouses located in the Gaza strip will not be dismantled after Monday's pullout. Instead, they will remain standing and be placed in Palestinian control.

The deal allows one of the Gaza strip's largest employers to remain intact. Greenhouses in the region currently employ more than 4,000 people.

The deal was pioneered by envoy James Wolfenson. Mr. Wolfenson will purchase the greenhouses using funds amounting to US$14 million. He will proceed to turn the properties over to Palestine.

Daniel Ayalon, Israeli ambassador to the United States, spoke optimistically of the greenhouse agreement. Said Mr. Ayalon, "As we leave Gaza, and some parts of the West Bank, we are not leaving scorched earth. On the contrary, we are leaving behind means for them to take over and immediately better their situation."

In Gaza, the median age is 15 and about 80% of the population live in poverty.