The Palestinian president has appealed to his people to ensure quiet during Israel's upcoming withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The declaration came as Jewish settlers received their first evacuation orders.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas says Israel should be allowed to leave Gaza in a peaceful and civilized manner to show the world that the Palestinian people deserve independence and freedom.
In a speech to the Palestinian parliament, Mr. Abbas said the Gaza pullout is the beginning of the fulfillment of a dream. He says it will lead to Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank and the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
Mr. Abbas spoke hours after Jewish settlers in Gaza received their first evacuation orders. The army distributed letters warning the settlers that they have a little more than a week to evacuate their homes. Those residents who have not moved out by August 17 will be removed by force.
Many settlers reacted with defiance.
Na'ama Dorbeev, the secretary of the Gaza settlement of Katif says "It's a further attempt by the government to humiliate us, scare us and trample on our rights." She told Israeli television, "We will remain here forever".
But others settlers are not as optimistic. Nearly 60 percent of the more than nine thousand settlers slated for evacuation from Gaza and part of the West Bank have applied for government compensation. That is a rise from 44 percent two weeks ago. It is a sign that settler resistance is waning and they are coming to terms with the idea that the pullout is inevitable.
A new poll shows that 55 percent of Israelis support the Gaza withdrawal, while 39 percent are opposed. That is an indication that Israel is a bitterly divided nation.