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Sharon Wins Support for Settler Withdrawal Plan


Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon narrowly won the backing of the parliament on Monday to unilaterally separate his country from the Palestinians if peace talks fail. He also ruled out negotiations with the Palestinians in the immediate future, saying they are doing nothing to stop attacks against Israelis.

Mr. Sharon received the support of 46 lawmakers. Forty-five voted against his proposed disengagement plan.

The debate was called in response to his recent statements that Israel might have to withdraw unilaterally from most, if not all, of the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank, if peace talks with the Palestinians remain stalled.

Mr. Sharon said on Monday there is no prospect of such negotiations being revived immediately, one day after two Palestinian suicide bombers killed 10 Israelis at the southern port of Ashdod.

He said that the Palestinian leadership has done nothing against such terrorism and that the Palestinian security forces have failed to confiscate weapons, make arrests and stop incitement against Israel in the media, schools and mosques.

Mr. Sharon said it is clear Israel, for the moment, has no real Palestinian negotiating partners for peace talks.

He added that exactly what unilateral steps Israel might take has not yet been finalized and promised to bring the completed plan before the parliament later.

Mr. Sharon says that he will ask the approval of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, and calls on lawmakers to support the final plan.

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