The meeting at the premier's office, which lasted some two hours, failed to reconcile any of the differences between the Jewish settlers and their one-time champion. 

Pinhas Wallerstein, a senior figure in the Yesha settlers council, described Sharon's uncompromising attitude in the talks as "disgraceful". 

"It was one of the most disgraceful meetings with a prime minister of Israel," he was quoted as saying by Israeli television. "He [Sharon] is determined to lead the country to a split." 

Under the terms of Sharon's so-called disengagement plan, all 8000 settlers currently living in the Gaza Strip and four isolated Jewish enclaves in the northern West Bank, are due to move from the land they occupy by next year. 

'Forcible transfer'

In turn, Sharon is hoping that such a unilateral measure will enable him to strengthen Israeli control over larger West Bank
settlement blocs where the majority of settlers live. 

"It was one of the most disgraceful meetings with a prime minister of Israel"

Pinhas Wallerstein,
A senior figure in the Yesha settlers council

Settlers and their supporters have held several protests against the disengagement plan in recent weeks. 

Sharon is still looking to find a parliamentary majority for his plan when he presents it to MPs on 25 October . 

He lost his majority in the Knesset in June when previous allies were either sacked or resigned in protest at what settlers described as the "forcible transfer of Jews".