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Israeli Parliament Passes Budget, Clearing Way for Gaza Pullout

Israel's parliament has approved the state budget, clearing the final legislative hurdle for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to pull Israeli settlements out of the Gaza Strip.

Legislators approved the 2005 budget, 58-to-36, with one abstention. Failure to pass the budget by Thursday would have forced Mr. Sharon to resign.

The news came as angry Jewish settlers soon to be evicted from their homes in the Gaza Strip said they will take their fight to the streets, warning of mass protests and possible violence.

Settlers lost their political battle Monday, when Israel's parliament voted down a proposal to hold a national referendum on the pullout plan.

The settlers have until the last week of July to accept compensation and leave voluntarily. Otherwise, they will be evicted.

Some information for this story provided by AFP and Reuters.