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Israeli Cabinet Rejects Proposal to Delay Gaza Withdrawal


Israel's Cabinet has rejected a proposal to postpone Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's planned mid-August start of a pullout from the Gaza Strip.

Ministers voted 18 to three Sunday against Likud Party Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz's proposed three-month delay.

Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a former prime minister who is now Mr. Sharon's bitter rival in the Likud Party, supported the call for a delay, saying more time was needed to complete pullout preparations.

Mr. Sharon had been widely expected to beat back the challenge ahead of Wednesday's parliamentary vote on the issue.

Israel plans to begin evacuating all 21 Gaza settlements and four of the 120 West Bank settlements next month. American officials say the pullout can revive peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.

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