Sharon settlement offer 'not enough'

The Israeli prime minister is reported to be ready to dismantle at least 10 Jewish settlements in the West Bank as part of a plan to disengage from the Palestinians.

    Sharon is the architect of Israel's settlement project

    Israel public television said on Monday d

    etails of the plan were revealed after a secret meeting between Ariel

    Sharon and opposition leader Shimon Peres

    last week.

    The television report gave no further details or named the settlements

    in question.

    Peres is said to have urged Sharon to go public with his proposal, but

    the premier refused, saying he needed first to gain US approval.

    Another reason for postponing an announcement was a planned

    referendum over an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

    Illegal settlements

    But Palestinian negotiations minister Saib Uraiqat pounced on

    Sharon's reported proposal, saying Israel should remove all Jewish

    settlements from Palestinian land, not just a handful of them.

    "The Israeli government should chose between settlement activity

    and peace. Both of these tracks cannot coexist...

    They should chose peace over settlements"

    Saib Uraiqat,
    Palestinian National Authority


    "The Israeli government should chose between settlement activity

    and peace. Both of these tracks cannot coexist," Uraiqat said.

    "They should choose peace over settlements."

    The evacuation of the Gaza settlements forms part of a larger

    "disengagement plan" which Israel has said it will start

    implementing in the summer if no progress is made in the peace

    process with the Palestinians.

    Media reports said Sharon met Peres on 19 February when the

    hawkish premier shared details of his unilateral disengagement plan

    and the estimated timetable for its implementation.

    There are currently almost half a million Jewish settlers living on occupied Palestinian land in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

    All the settlements are illegal under international law.



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