Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says his government has begun coordinating with the Palestinians on Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank.
Mr. Sharon told reporters in Jerusalem today (Tuesday) that he believes Israel is at a crossroads of peace after his summit last week in Egypt with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. At the summit, the two sides declared a truce after more than four years of bloodshed.
The Israeli prime minister said he hopes the withdrawal from Gaza and four small West Bank settlements will not create a vacuum for militant Islamic groups to fill. That withdrawal is set to be completed at the end of this year.
Meanwhile, the Israeli parliament today began a two-day debate on the withdrawal plan. A final vote is expected Wednesday, with Mr. Sharon's plan assured of getting a majority.