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Israeli Parliament Authorizes Gaza Withdrawal - 2004-10-26


The Israeli parliament has approved Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to evacuate all Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip and four small West Bank enclaves.

The 67-45 vote came after two days of heated debate and protests by settlers who live in Palestinian territories captured in the 1967 war. Mr. Sharon has said the evacuation will begin next May and last less than three months.

Immediately after the vote, four influential ministers in Mr. Sharon's Likud Party, including former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said they would resign unless Mr. Sharon holds a referendum on the Gaza plan within two weeks.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says that if Israel is serious about peace, it should return to the negotiating table and make the Gaza withdrawal part of the road map peace plan.

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