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Ariel Sharon has vowed to put his Gaza withdrawal plan to a parliamentary vote on October 25 despite far-right opposition that threatens to bring down his government
Ultra-nationalists heckled Sharon loudly on Monday as he opened a new legislative session. He had tried to mollify them earlier by overruling the army's request to scale back a Gaza offensive intended to stop Palestinian rocket fire into the Jewish state. In a televised speech, Sharon made clear he would not be deterred from pursuing his plan to "disengage" from conflict with the Palestinians by uprooting all 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza and four of 120 enclaves in the West Bank next year. "I intend to bring it to a vote in the Knesset on October 25," Sharon said, setting a timetable that could help pave the way for Israel's first removal of settlements built on occupied land since it returned the Sinai to Egypt in 1982. But it could also spur a pro-settler coalition partner to carry out its threat to jump ship, further weakening Sharon's government and possibly forcing him to call early elections. Despite that, commentators say the crucial "disengagement" bill could still pass with the help of the dovish Labour opposition. Labour leader Shimon Peres told lawmakers his party would provide a "safety net" to ensure parliamentary approval. Parliament later rejected two no-confidence motions filed by Labour and Israeli Arab parties against the government's free market reforms and spending cuts. Sharon has survived a string of such motions over the past year. But lawmakers, including some members of Sharon's Likud party, also voted 53-44 to reject Sharon's session-opening speech. The vote was symbolic and non-binding, but signalled that "disengagement" is in for a rough ride down the road. Israeli Arab lawmakers appeared to vote against the speech as well since Sharon's plan would also cement Israel's grip on larger West Bank settlements, overriding a stalled U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan promising Palestinians a viable state, informs the Reuters. According to VOANews, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says he will present his controversial Gaza Strip withdrawal plan to parliament on October 25. In remarks opening a new session of parliament, Mr. Sahron laid out a timetable for legislative action on his disengagement plan. If it is approved, he said he will submit additional legislation the first week of November on the compensation to be given to Jewish settlers who would have to relocate. The controversial Sharon plan calls for a complete withdrawal of Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip and a partial withdrawal from the West Bank. The Israeli prime minister promised "constant supervision" during the planned pull-out, and said the government reserves the right to adapt the plan to defend Israelis and prevent terror. Mr. Sharon also said he is still committed to the U.S.-backed "road map" for peace with the Palestinians, but he said that until the Palestinians showed themselves to be partners for peace, Israel will be forced to take its own steps. Opposition Labor Party leader Shimon Peres said, after the speech, that he would vote for the disengagement plan only if steps are taken to implement the road map.
Print Ariel Sharon has vowed to put his Gaza withdrawal plan to a parliamentary vote on October 25 despite far-right opposition that threatens to bring down his government Bookmark Ariel Sharon has vowed to put his Gaza withdrawal plan to a parliamentary vote on October 25 despite far-right opposition that threatens to bring down his government

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