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Last Updated: Monday, 15 August 2005, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
Press pensive on 'historic' day
Papers on both sides of the political divide greet the start of Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip with mixed feelings.

Palestinian dailies celebrate what they see as a partial victory, but are wary this might be a ploy by Israel to entrench on the West Bank.

Israeli commentators reflect on a sense of history in the making, though some speak of a 'black day' and


Commentary in AL-HAYAT-AL-JADIDAH (Palestinian)

Today, the invaders' departure from Gaza begins. It was not Sharon who decided on this but rather steadfast Gaza and its patient heroes.

Second commentary in AL-HAYAT-AL-JADIDAH (Palestinian)

These are moments for contemplating and celebrating the harvest of the good plant... These are moments to think about the great sacrifices that our people have made... There is much work to be done, work that befits only free men. When the battle is political, our strength is in our unity. We are stronger than the occupiers.

Third commentary in AL-HAYAT-AL-JADIDAH (Palestinian)

We still have a long way to go until we reach complete liberation.

Commentary in AL-AYYAM (Palestinian)

The national interest calls for modest celebrations to remind us always of the dangers still facing the Palestinian people.

Second commentary in AL-AYYAM (Palestinian)

This is the first time that Israel is dismantling settlements that were built to stay, built to underline the Zionist project's success.

Third commentary in AL-AYYAM (Palestinian)

The Israelis are pulling out of the lands of Historic Israel to the trenches of 'a Jewish state'... Both sides are defeated and victorious at the same time.

Editorial in AL-QUDS (Palestinian)

Palestinians understand that the ploys by the Israeli government and settlers will not make them budge an inch from their insistence on their legitimate rights, to end the occupation and establish full sovereignty over all of the homeland and its capital Jerusalem.

Commentary in AL-QUDS (Palestinian)

Alas, we have regained a part but have lost everything else. This is the real equation that we should pay attention to, while we celebrate... The Gaza pullout is in Israel's interest, to make us drown there, so that Israel can control our lands and people in the West Bank. So why the rush to celebrate?

Commentary in YEDIOT AHARONOT (Israeli)

Yesterday, when the head of the Southern Command locked the gate at midnight, he laid the cornerstone for a dramatic and historically significant political move: From here begins the long march to build recognised final borders between the State of Israel and the Palestinian state... Now, whether we like it or not, this has begun.

Second Commentary in YEDIOT AHARONOT (Israeli)

After the settlers' tears dry, the media dust settles, what will be left in the consciousness is that for the first time settlements were evacuated from an area considered part of the land of Israel. This move has an immense political and social significance.

Third Commentary in YEDIOT AHARONOT (Israeli)

I hope that this black day will not arrive, but if it does, I tell my brothers the soldiers, policemen and settlers: We are brothers, we do not want war between brothers, we do not want bloodshed... We keep wars for our enemies.

Editorial in HAARETZ (Israeli)

Now is the time to bravely confront those who are trying to undermine the pullout. The soldiers and police officers must know they have widespread public support.

Commentary in MAARIV (Israeli)

The ministers of the Israeli government, woe and shame, are signing the document of expulsion from the Gaza district and northern Samaria. I searched, dug and surfed to see if anyone is aware that the prime minister continues to mock and lie, despite his promises to the whole world.

Second commentary in MAARIV (Israeli)

There will be no real disengagement from the Palestinians, but an increasing disengagement among the different components of Israeli society will certainly be achieved... Tomorrow the external danger will grow, while internal cohesion will be harmed - a foretold disaster.

Editorial in HATZOFE (Israeli)

Israel wants to withdraw without getting anything in return and if the Palestinians made any promise it is worthless. Many Israeli citizens, including those on the left, do not understand Arial Sharon's move... The ministers and Knesset members of Likud... can still shatter the immoral basis of the Sharon leadership and government.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.


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