Sunday, February 08, 2004

A Bit Dated, But Still Important

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (news - web sites) stunned friends and foes Monday by saying he planned to evacuate almost all the Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip (news - web sites).

"I have given the order to plan for the evacuation of 17 settlements in the Gaza Strip," the right-wing prime minister told the Haaretz newspaper. "I am working on the assumption that in the future there will be no Jews in Gaza."

Sharon, once considered the godfather of the settlement movement, later told his pro-settler Likud party the proposal he will take to Washington later this month would also call for the removal of a smaller number of Jewish enclaves in the West Bank.

Excellent stuff. The settlements were flat out immoral, a strategic liability and an irritant for the Palestinians and it is great that Sharon is getting rid of the ones in Gaza. Obviously its not full withdrawl (many settlements in the West Bank will remain intact for now), but it is a big deal. It is good to see that Sharon is willing to do more than just bang his head against the wall and experiment a bit.


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