Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, says some Jewish settlements in the occupied territories will have to be abandoned under a final peace treaty with the Palestinians. Addressing a convention of his ruling Likud Party, he also reaffirmed his commitment to unilaterally separating Israel from the Palestinians, if peace talks fail.
Mr. Sharon says it is "clear" that in a permanent peace accord, Israel would have to give up some of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. His tough speech drew boos and catcalls at the Likud Party convention in Tel Aviv. Mr. Sharon also said Israel would support the formation of a Palestinian state under the international "roadmap" to peace plan.
The plan, which is backed by the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, calls for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state by 2005.
At the same time, Mr. Sharon stressed that if no progress is made in peace negotiations in the next few months, he would unilaterally cut Israel off from the Palestinians.
This move would include evacuating some Jewish settlements for security reasons.
Mr. Sharon's defiant speech to the Likud convention is a challenge to other members of the party who have vowed to block his unilateral separation plan.
Some members of the Likud claim that any move by Israel to unilaterally withdraw from any part of the West Bank and Gaza Strip will only encourage more Palestinian terrorism.
Mr. Sharon insisted that "no prize will be given to terror". However, he adds, that if the Palestinians are willing to dismantle what he called their "terrorist infrastructure", then Israel "is ready to give, and to give a lot".