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  Thursday, August 22, 2019
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Kofi Annan congratulated Ariel Sharon Wednesday for winning a "historic" vote in the Knesset on his disengagement plan
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan congratulated Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Wednesday for winning a "historic" vote in the Knesset on his disengagement plan, but reminded him that leaving the Gaza Strip is just a first step in giving up land in pursuit of peace as detailed in the road map. "Withdrawal could be an important step toward a process that will eventually result in the end of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, paving the way for the establishment of a sovereign, democratic, viable, and contiguous Palestinian state living side by side in peace with a secure Israel," Annan's spokesman Fred Eckhard said on Wednesday. "The secretary-general remains supportive of a full and complete Israeli withdrawal, leading to the end of the occupation of the Gaza Strip," said Eckhard. He said Annan "hopes that the Israeli withdrawal will have the effect of reviving peace efforts, which must be based on the road map." European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who over the weekend warned that a pullout could be a nightmare if it isn't properly coordinated with the Palestinians, still had positive words for Israel on Wednesday, informs Jerusalem Post. According to the Salon, Israel's Parliament Tuesday night voted for the first time in 37 years of occupation to remove Jewish settlements from the Palestinian territories in a historic move that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said paved the way to the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At the end of two days of at times raucous and bitter parliamentary debate, Sharon was forced to rely on the opposition to carry through his "unilateral disengagement plan" after his Likud Party split over the removal of all Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip and a small part of the West Bank. Sharon won, with 67 of the 120 M.P.'s voting for the plan and 45 against. The remainder abstained. Israel's deputy prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said: "The state of Israel is moving forward. We are going to change the status quo in the Middle East. We are going to make painful concessions. There is no return from this."
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