Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says he will amend his US-backed Gaza withdrawal plan to gain political support from conservatives.
Mr. Sharon consulted with key members of his Likud party on Monday -- one day after the defeat of his so-called disengagement plan in a non-binding Likud vote.
The Sharon plan calls for the evacuation of all Jewish settlers from Gaza and small sections of the West Bank, while consolidating Israeli control in other West Bank areas.
Reuters News is quoting Likud sources as saying changes could include limiting the withdrawal to Gaza enclaves most vulnerable to attacks from Palestinian militants.
President Bush has expressed support for the Sharon withdrawal plan. In Washington Monday, the State Department said the United States still sees Mr. Sharon's plan as an opportunity to advance the peace process.
In a related development, Secretary of State Colin Powell will travel to the United Nations on Tuesday for meetings to discuss the Middle East peace plan known as the "road map."
Also, Monday, Israel's Channel Two television said the government and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah are close to an agreement -- under which Israel would free a prisoner in exchange for information on missing airman Ron Arad, who was shot down over Lebanon in 1986.