Sharon proposes new Gaza pullout plan

The Gaza pullout plan that the Israeli Prime Minister plans to put to a cabinet vote calls for demolishing or dismantling all evacuated Jewish settlement buildings.

    Sharon wants to maintain West Bank settlements

    Israel Radio reported on Friday that Sharon was ready to backtrack from his original blueprint that said Israel would leave

    structures in Gaza's 21 settlements intact by working out a deal to transfer them to an international agency.

    But a scorched-earth policy in any Israeli withdrawal from Gaza would be certain to draw international condemnation.

    Israeli officials had earlier raised the possibility of working out arrangements for settlers' homes to be turned over to Palestinian refugees.

    Officials in Sharon's office could not be reached for comment on the Israel radio report.

    Public backing

    Sharon has set a cabinet vote for Sunday on his full Gaza pullout plan despite opposition from ministers of his own right-wing Likud party.

    The Israeli army has devastated
    Gaza in recent weeks

    The "withdrawal" from Gaza will be accompanied by an expansion in control of the occupied West Bank.
     
    Sharon was humiliated on 2 May when his Likud party rejected a first version of his proposal to pull back unilaterally from Gaza, despite US backing for the plan.

    But since then he has worked to convince sceptical ministers to accept the modified version of his so-called "separation plan".

    According to an opinion poll released on Thursday, 60% of Israelis support a withdrawal from the Gaza Strip while 40% oppose the move.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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