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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 August, 2004, 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
Defiant Sharon sets out Gaza plan
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Sharon wants a cabinet and parliamentary vote on Gaza by the end of 2004
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has presented a new timetable for his controversial plan to withdraw troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip.

He plans to accelerate the evacuation of Gaza's 21 Jewish settlements.

At a meeting with members of his ruling Likud party in parliament, he warned party rebels the plan "will be applied, and that's it".

The plan has already been rejected by the wider membership of Likud, but Mr Sharon insists he will push ahead.

He now wants a cabinet vote on the plan in mid-September, followed by a vote in parliament on 3 November.

This would enable the first settlers to be pulled out early next year - rather than the phased pullout proposed previously.

The BBC's Jon Leyne in Jerusalem says Mr Sharon is stepping up the pressure on members of parliament from his ruling Likud party and bringing the issue to a head in typically forceful style.

Israel is planning to pull all its 7,000 settlers from Gaza and the troops that protect them as part of a disengagement plan.

Israel will maintain control of Gaza's borders, coastline and airspace. Four West Bank settlements are also to be evacuated.


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