BBC correspondent Lyse Doucet is in Neve Dekalim, the largest Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip. She put your questions to Jewish settler Shaul Goldstein, and to Saleh Abdul Shafi, a Palestinian resident in Gaza City. Click on the video button (to your right) to watch Have Your Say.
Israeli soldiers have begun issuing eviction orders to Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip.
This is the second page of your comments.
The following comments reflect the balance of views received:
Israel did better than compromise unilaterally when it gave up the disputed land, if this is not a sign of peace then what is? People are blaming Israel for leaving Gaza for economic, demographic and military reasons. All states do things for these reasons. The walls on the borders are not permanent as the evacuation of Gaza show. They are conditional and were built against terror many years after the occupation. There are and where several nations on an area as big as Gaza. Singapore and Hong Kong are examples. The real question is will Palestinians use Gaza as a terror base or try to built a viable economy. On this will depend the future of the whole area.
David Ben Rosen, Israel
People who are speaking against the wall have no real understanding. The wall while disrupting lives on the Palestinian side, saves lives every day on the Israeli side. What gives Europeans the right to opposed the wall and endanger my life as an Israeli citizen? I've managed barely to escape quite a few terror attacks, but since the wall there has been a dramatic decrease.
I really don't understand how anyone with a basic understanding can call the Israeli government "apartheid". I suggest such people visit Israel first. If Britain is Anglo-Saxon with Asian minorities, why does a Jewish state with Arab minorities an "apartheid" state. Andy should visit Israel and especially Haifa to see the truth.
Dror, Haifa, Israel
Gaza withdrawal is a great step towards peace in the region. But I think that it will be followed by another Israeli step which will surprise the world community. The history and the past events clearly demonstrated that Israel did not give an inch for nothing. They have been planning to get more and more not to leave.
Nabil, Cairo, Egypt
I cannot understand the big fuss about this withdrawal. Finding a lasting political solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict is the most efficient way to eradicate political violence by Muslims.
C Dave, Beckenham, UK
Hamas and Hezbollah will claim this withdrawal as a victory for their "struggle", or "terrorism", depending on which side of the fence you are on. This will inevitably embolden them, and further attacks are assured. For Hamas and Hezbollah, why stop now? Their strategy is working. Sharon, although an accomplished Army type, is not the first leader to come from the military to be defeated in office by his own policy.
Ian Michie, Coalville Leics
The withdrawal is a very positive move that should have happened sooner. My only fear is that it could be seen as a victory for terrorism. If that happens then all peace loving people around the world will have more horrors to face.
Adam Smith, London, UK
The protesters are right to demonstrate. The Gaza withdrawal is good and will bring a lasting peace to the region and perhaps the rest of the world. I am neither an Israeli nor a Palestinian living in the affected areas and for that, I am grateful to the Almighty God.
Ayo Awoyele, Peterborough, United Kingdom
I think that in order to resolve this Palestinian question once and for all, this should be elevated to the UN Security Council, so that a quick resolution to this issue ironed out. There's no doubt that terrorist attacks will continue despite the Gaza pullout. Let us not deceive ourselves that with the pullout, security will diminish but quite the opposite. Netanyahu is correct in saying that Gaza will become a base of operations for those terrorists...
John, Manila, Philippines
Both sides need to disengage. This endless conflict is senseless to the extreme with both sides being intransigent. It is high time that the cycle of violence and destruction comes to an end. The Israelis should pull out from all the settlements and the Palestinians should try and build from scratch, educating their children in the process. Violence should never be a recipe for survival nor success.
Pancha Chandra, Brussels, Belgium
Honestly, I am not sure if this was the right decision or not. Time will be the judge of that. The Palestinians unfortunately tend to be their own worst enemies. They may start again with more attacks and that will undo this potential progress.
I do not support either side (Palestinians and Israelis) but I do support justice and democracy. I think this should have happened a long time ago.
The withdrawal from Gaza is a big step, but it's not nearly enough. The apartheid government of Israel needs to be replaced with a secular state, catering to the needs of everyone living within Israel and the occupied territories, regardless of race or creed.
Andy, Droitwich, UK
Having lived near Gaza for approximately a year and a half in the mid 90s I personally believe disengagement is the way forward. Too many Israeli soldiers are being risked unnecessarily for mere symbolism and the 'imperialism' of first generation Israelis from the US.
Adam, Stoke, UK
The pullout is inevitable, so just keep calm and try to live side by side with your neighbours. Peace is the solution. Moreover, this withdrawal is just a step to put things in their proper place.
Abdellah Aoussar, Casablanca, Morocco
I don't understand why the Israelis have to leave Gaza. Let the Palestinians govern Gaza, but let the Israelis stay. By making them leave, the Palestinians are saying that they are incapable of living with a minority in their country. 20% of Israel's citizens are Arab, but they are not being forced out, they have representation in the Knesset. So then why can't there be a Jewish minority in Gaza?
C Breedon, US (ex-UK)
I think the pullout is a step in the right direction. I still cannot understand why there is so much opposition to the plan. The Israeli government has enough resources to reallocate the settlers to other regions of Israel. It's time the Palestinians were relieved from some of the misery they have been living in for the past few years. In addition, Ariel Sharon has proven to the world that he is in favour of peace in the region. I am perhaps one of the few people who feel optimistic about this whole matter. It's time for people to grow up and move ahead.
Fabian Bonavia, New York, NY
I think withdrawal from the occupied territories is always a step in the right direction. Taken into perspective, this unfortunately is too small a step to be a cause for hope.
Marwan, Toronto, Canada
For some strange reason I don't believe that this is going to happen. It will be a strangulating hold on Gaza creating more misery in the region. I don't even want to think about it.
Arif Siddique, Brooklyn, NY, USA
I will withhold judgement until I see what the Palestinians do with this concession. However, I do believe that the Israeli government used their people as pawns and had no real intention to occupy the land permanently.
Rob G, Kansas City, USA
I do not believe the withdrawal will lead to peace in the region, unless the right of existence of Israel is recognised by all.
Anon, Lagos, Nigeria
What about the remaining terms of the UN Resolution, and the rest of the lands of the Palestinians that have been occupied?
Bill, Bracknell, UK
Israel is giving land to Palestinians but Jordan is not - although it's a much bigger country and covers far more of the area of Trans-Jordan that includes the West Bank. Before 1948 there was no 'Palestinian state' but now there is a chance that there might be. Why it doesn't include the rest of trans-Jordan is a mystery. Or is it merely a way to reduce the size of Israel on the great map of Arab nations in the Middle East? It's already smaller than Wales.
Mark Lee, London, England
The evacuation of 8,000 Israelis from Gaza is a useful symbolic gesture of give and take with the Palestinians. It is but a token gesture compared to the pain the Palestinians have suffered for 5 decades. Nevertheless it is better than nothing. Let us hope their leaders will build on it.
Kwok Ho, Sydney, Australia.
People who speak of the "occupation" of Gaza either don't know history or have sort memories. Israel begged Egypt to take Gaza back after the attack launched against her in 1973. Then when Israel wanted to improve housing in Gaza a UN resolution promoted by the Arab bloc prevented her from doing so. No effort has been made to provide a decent quality of life there by the Palestinians when it has been under their control. Let's hope they don't make yet another mistake in their long history of missed opportunities and turn Gaza into a terror launching pad instead of making it a decent place to live with all the international money that is continuing to pour in.
Joy Wolfe, Cheadle Cheshire
Honestly, what gives one a claim to land? For individuals, they've usually bought it and the government backs their claim. For countries, someone raised up an army and claimed it. This battle over land is no different than the battles that have been fought in Europe, the Americas or anywhere else. Two groups want the same land, but only one can have it. That leads to conflict. Of course, the Palestinians are definitely on the loosing end of this conflict and hopefully the centre-right Palestinians will accept the West Bank and Gaza as good enough while Israel doesn't do widespread crackdowns on regular people if a few radicals pop up. With the news from Ireland and Israel, along with a government in Spain that seems committed to peace, I'm hoping that this could be the dawning of a new era. But then I'm naive.
Sean Patrick Hogan, Waltham, MA USA
Not only should the settlers be removed, but so should the wall, which, whatever the excuse for its existence, is effectively destroying the possibility of Palestinians farming and living in peace. When people are cut off from water, land, food -- what can you expect but resistance?
Cathleen Kneen, Sorrento, Canada
Firstly, there is no agreement or law that calls for Israel's complete withdrawal to pre-1967 borders as the borders are undefendable and unrealistic. Secondly, if the Palestinians and their brothers in the other Arab states had spent as much money and effort on creating better conditions for the people as they have on attacking Israel, they would not be living in squalor in "refugee camps".
Barry, NYC, USA
The 8,000 illegal settlers who will be forced to move from Gaza and the West Bank will feel exactly like the 800,000 Palestinians expelled by the Israeli forces in 1948, forced to remove from lands their families owned for millennia. The removal of illegal settlements and the return of Arab land in exchange for comprehensive and lasting peace is the only viable solution for the Middle East.
Ed Hindi, Niagara Falls, Canada
In the space of ten years that the Israeli settlers have occupied part of Gaza, they have built a viable export economy. The Palestinians have not even attempted to emulate that, blaming the 'occupation' instead. Thousands of Palestinians have worked for the Israelis during that period and now know enough to teach others how to go about reclaiming the desert. Now that the Israelis are leaving, can we expect to see the Palestinians knuckling down and doing something productive, or are they going to keep whining that the Israelis haven't left enough behind for them to use?
D Hirod, London
This is a great first step in the peace process, hopefully both sides will wake up and make the best efforts to continue towards a safer and peaceful region. Taking out less than 10,000 people that should have never have settled there in the first place should not be such a big deal. We are comparing 10,000 settlers to 1.3 million human beings who were there before the 10,000 settled in that area. We are also comparing 360sq km (Gaza strip) to 20,770 KM2 (Israel). Israel is giving up less than 1.7% land by giving back the Gaza Strip. Clearly coexisting in the same country hasn't worked, so why not give back two small pieces of land and coexist as neighbouring countries, and build a wall if need be, but on Israeli land not on their small land, protect Israel don't imprison the Palestinians.
John, DC, USA
This is a great move on behalf of Israel however, they need to escalate the pull out of the West Bank as well. If the US must aide in the funding so be it. However, if these pullouts are met with continued hostility yet again (who started this in '67) then they should immediately take back all lands with International backing to put an end to this once and for all.
Jeff, Tucson, AZ - USA
The Russians withdrew from Afghanistan, the Syrians form Lebanon, so what makes these settlers think that they can settle on land which is not Israeli land. Saddam was also forced out of Kuwait. This move by Sharon is long overdue and might mark the beginning of peace for the Israelis. Forget this biblical nonsense and get back inside your own borders.
Thomas, Leeds, UK
I am broadly in support of disengagement but I do hope that Palestinians do not misinterpret this as a victory for terrorism. I feel much sympathy for the many normal Israelis being expelled from their homes. This said, I believe the sacrifice may be worthwhile because it will move the peace process forwards. However, the residents of Gaza now hold their destiny in their hands. If heavy rocket and mortar attacks continue, Israel is completely justified in reoccupying the territory.
Shaya, Manchester, UK
Khaled Adams is correct in stating that what we need is for youth to promote unity. But how can that happen, when the Palestinian Authority has raised an entire generation to hate Jews, and murder Israelis with the goal of martyrdom? The PA must stop incitement and glorification of death. It will take another generation or two to cleanse the culture of this indoctrination.
Aggie, Los Angeles, CA, US
I see no chance whatsoever for peace in the region. It is not up to me, living in the USA, to comment about the withdrawal from Gaza. Though I think Sharon is right - Hamas, Jihad and others are now plotting to change their bases of operation to Gaza and continue the war against all of Israel. They will not rest until the entire state of Israel is destroyed, which is their illusion and will not happen. Eventually they will continue to fight each other to the death. The sad truth is the different factions there hate each other with passion to the point of extinction and nothing will stop them until all are dead.
Bert Goldman, San Antonio, Texas, USA
I have no pain for the Israelis being kicked out of Gaza and I believe it is because of the strength of Hamas and others that they are leaving. They entered by force and they were forced to flee.
Driss Hammami, Djerba, Tunisia
Israelis voted to leave Gaza because the economic cost and cost in human life was proving too great. They are building the security fence to ensure that this problem will not arise with the major West Bank settlements. The Palestinians, and the Islamists in particular, will take credit for Israel's disengagement. However the likelihood that Gaza sinks into chaos and the 'militants' resort to terror tactics with the predictable Israeli response remains very high. Like many of the correspondents I am not hopeful about the prospects of peace.
Syd, Manchester UK
As an Israeli, I really hope that the Gaza withdrawal, a very painful move, will pave more steps towards peace, otherwise it would all be in vain and Israel would compromise our security. However, I also fear more calls for removing Jews from the West Bank. Many Israelis ask - where will it stop? Gaza? The West Bank? Next thing Jerusalem? Who knows what the future holds but I pray for peace.
Yoav Menahem Ben Zakai, Jerusalem, Israel
This move has remarkable potential. If managed successfully and peacefully post-withdrawal, Gaza may become a model for peaceful co-existence. Israel may then proceed to give Palestinians full control over their borders and sea ports. On the other hand, should the Palestinians choose the same route as those in Lebanon after the Israeli pullout, the Gaza strip will become a hotbed of terrorist activity and will have to remain isolated. This is the opportunity the Palestinians have been requesting for decades. Lets hope they make the most of it.
The occupation is against international law and is a terrible point of contention with the Palestinians. If the settlers wish for any hope of peace, they should be happy to withdraw.
Robert, Salt Lake City USA
We are witnessing a creation of the new Islamic state controlled by the most militant extremists from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. I think it is a horrible mistake for Israel to leave Gaza, the result of this will be will be an increase of attacks against Israel.
Regina, London, UK
Political solutions rarely have a positive impact on deeply divided religious conflicts. However, I hope for the sake of peace the withdrawal has a positive effect.
Bob Lund, Washington, DC, USA
This is move is a sham. Without settlers, Gaza is just the way Israel wants it; disconnected, isolated, and poor. Israeli policy has always been about disrupting the territorial continuity of whatever might be considered "Palestinian territory". Now with this pullout all of a sudden Israel is hailed as taking a "step to peace" while they expand settlements in the West Bank, as well as building the illegal wall that will eventually turn the West Bank into a number of little Gaza Strips.
Rami Azzam, Vancouver BC, Canada
It's hard to let go of the history of bloodshed on both sides. What this conflict requires most is for the youth of today who are affected by the outcome, to promote unity and demonstrate to the older generations that they are no longer required to make these decisions. Taking sides in this debate only adds to the fire.
Khaled Adams, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
The Gaza Strip will be a huge prison after the pullout. What do people expect the Palestinians to accomplish under these conditions? How would you feel being one of 1.2 million people trapped in a tiny strip of land, with the world telling you that you that it's up to you now to improve your situation? It's obvious Ariel Sharon and Israel are setting them up for failure so that they can blame the Palestinians for everything that's going wrong in the region.
J Pahal, Prince George, BC, Canada
I believe that the Gaza withdrawal is unquestionably a good step by the Israeli government towards peace in the region. I just hope that it is a sign of the goodwill and compromise needed on both sides to continue this long journey towards peace and not merely a ploy by the Israeli government to distract from the extensive labyrinth of illegal settlements that strangles the West Bank.
Paul Ascosi, Baltimore, USA
I have met several Palestinians and call some of them friends. I believe that the original Palestinians should be given at least the Gaza area, it is their country and their home. No one has the right to take that away from another human being.
The pull out is a logical first step (of many steps to come, towards the possibility of a peace in the Middle East. I only hope it is not another case of one step forward and two steps back, Binyamin Netanyahu has already taken the first back.
Richard Erickson, Florida USA
I live on an agricultural settlement in Israel adjacent to the border with the Gaza strip. We have been declared a closed military area, mainly to keep out other Israelis who are intent on disrupting the disengagement. We have been issued special identity cards and special stickers to identify ourselves and our vehicles as residents of this area. There are a lot of army and police personnel around but on the whole our lives have been disrupted only marginally by the whole thing.
I am in favour of the withdrawal from Gaza because I think that it is a step towards peace that sooner or later Israel would have had to take. I am not optimistic that the Palestinian leadership will respond with any similar steps toward peace but I expect they will spend most of their time producing excuses about why they can do nothing.
It's about time this withdrawal happened. As for Netanyahu I'm for one am happy to see the end of another hawk. But I wonder how much control the Palestinians will really have?
Well! They have to start somewhere! What is each side's real intention is hardly relevant, because if the intifada has taught us anything, it is that these event usually have their own momentum once they have been put in motion. I certainly wish both sides a smooth ride.
Margo, Toronto, Canada
I support the evacuation of Israeli settlers from Gaza and the West Bank. The pullout is consistent with the "Roadmap" to peace in the region. It is consistent with the demands of the Palestinians and the future Palestinian State. It is also consistent with strategically isolating Hamas. If Gaza becomes a peaceful productive area, it will be very good news for the Palestinians. If Hamas and other destabilizing forces use Gaza for terrorist purposes, Gaza will be a coherent and clearly unified anti-terrorist military target. The choice is with the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority.
Peter Macdonald, North Vancouver, Canada
Nothing in the near term is going to lead to peace. My sense is there is so much hatred for Israel in the Muslim world, that the Muslims would rather let the Palestinians kill themselves fighting Israel then make peace with them. So, what can we do but watch those that are interested in peace make fruitless gestures.
Bibi's resignation from the government was the right thing to do. The withdrawal from Gaza will be disastrous. Israel is leaving Gaza without any commitments whatsoever from the Palestinian Arabs. Withdrawing from a terror hotspot without getting anything in return only invites more terrorism as Palestinian terrorist groups will capitalize on the unilateral action just like Hezbollah did when Israel withdrew from Lebanon. Despite a UN Security Council resolution that affirms Israel quit Lebanon, Hezbollah is very active and continues to terrorize Israelis. The same thing will happen in Gaza. The international community will recognize the Israeli withdrawal but will do nothing to actually enforce peace or put pressure on the Palestinian Authority to stop terrorism just it didn't put any pressure on the Lebanese government to dismantle Hezbollah.
J. Smith, Canada
At last, the Israeli's are leaving from land that was illegally taken from the Palestinians in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Though, the situation changes very little, since Israeli housing authorities announced that they are planning to expand some of the bigger settlements in the West Bank. All this points to PM Sharon appeasing the US and UK so that he can continue with his Zionist goals of taking as much Palestinian land as possible. What gets lost in all of this is the illegal fence that Israel is building that is, in effect, annexing land and making it impossible for real negotiations for peace to occur.
Abu Sulayman, Philadelphia, PA, USA
I commend the positive feedback from some posters, but I believe they are tragically optimistic. There will always be fighting in that region, there always has and always will be. History has proven this.
Viviana, Dallas, TX, USA
It is the best time for Israel to leave occupied land, not only West Bank and come to an understanding with other countries for mutual peace. Fifty years from now things may not be in Israel's favour.
Jamil Ahmed, Pittsburgh, PA
It is a good step by the Israelis. Hopefully now; however, the land-for-peace negotiations stop. The Palestinians have much of what they wanted and it is time to show some initiative in governing themselves. The world does not need another failed state. Perhaps if the Palestinians spent as much time fixing their society as they do throwing rocks and blaming Israel for all their ills, they would have such advances as functioning basic sanitation and flowing water. Once Gaza is evacuated, Israel should not give one more square meter of land to the Palestinians until they demonstrate that they can effectively build a nation and govern it free of corruption.
Jonathan, Boston, MA
I support the withdrawal of Jewish settlers from Gaza. It's important to note that since 1967 the Israeli government offered significant financial incentives to prospective settlers. A feasible way to ease the strife within the Israeli populace is to increase the compensation paid to families forced to evacuate the settlements in Gaza. Moreover, the land that Israel is now withdrawing from is illegally occupied. As such, the only way to achieve a lasting piece is for Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 boundaries and help to create a viable Palestinian state. The entire region should not be held hostage by a few radical settlers. It is in everyone's interest to see the peace process must move forward.
Akshay, Boston, US
I support the Gaza withdrawal. I believe it is the only chance for peace in Israel, even though it may not guarantee it. Very likely the Israelis will have to give up much of the West Bank as well.
Javier Vazquez, Bronx, USA
I believe it is an economic move, the 8000 settlers require at least 4000 soldiers to protect them. It also demonstrates that the extremists are not just on the Palestinian side. It is a shame that the media in the UK and the US mostly report Islamic extremism.
Al, Tunbridge wells, UK
I don't have much hope that this evacuation will lead to a decrease in Hamas terror. What I do hope for is that it becomes less tolerated by western public opinion. Hamas is eager to distance itself from the world Islamic terror, as witnessed by its regular condemnation of Al-Qaeda attacks. This distinction was implicitly upheld by the leaders such as Tony Blair, under the pretext that Hamas has a legitimate goal for its fight - ending the occupation. If as a result of the evacuation Hamas will be clumped together with Al-Qaeda, this may reduce its legitimacy in the eyes of its supporters and donors and weaken it in the long term.
Michael, Rehovot, Israel
Consider the fact that the Israelis have given the Palestinians an isolated patch of land without the infrastructure to utilize it. No power stations, sanitation facilities, hospitals, desalination plants, or anything else of value. Even the settlement camps are being completely demolished leaving the rubble behind for the Palestinians to clear. Where is the good will in this and how is it supposed to help the Palestinians get on their feet? This is a hollow gesture from Sharon since the infrastructure will need to be rebuilt and without the means to do so.
Faisal Al-Husseini, London, UK
After the withdrawal Hamas will control Gaza and slowly turn it into an armed camp. The recent showdown with P.A. police leaves no one in any doubt about the truth of this. Elections will confirm Hamas domination of political life there too. The likely outcome will be more of the same. Tit for tat. Quassam rockets and incursions.
Miguel Almela, Alicante Spain
International law and United Nations resolutions require Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories. That they have not done so, that they destroy usable houses on their way out of a few segments of occupied territory, and that they expect financial compensation from their "allies" for such an empty gesture demonstrates the moral depravity of the occupation.
Mike , Phoenix, Arizona, USA
I don't have much hope for the peace prospects after the Gaza withdrawal. While it is good that Israel is leaving, it is clear that this is purely for economic reasons. Israel is increasing its hold on the West Bank - through the wall and settlements which will inevitably lead to more conflict. The international community must place big pressure on Israel to withdraw from Palestinian territories in the West Bank. Otherwise the Gaza disengagement will have been an enormous waste of time for everyone.
Stephen Murray, Amsterdam
I live in Gaza, we are in conflict with the Israelis not because they are Jew, of course not. It's more than a century of misery and suffering at the hands of the British and the Israelis. It's good to give us back a very tiny piece of our land, but I am not optimistic about the future.
When Israel built the settlements it got condemned. Now it is leaving, but choosing to demolish the settlements, which it built itself and got condemned for, and it gets condemned. The Palestinians can't have it both ways. And for those of you who think that they should be left as compensation, I would like to know what compensation the UK are planning to give the inhabitants of Northern Ireland, once it withdraws its troops from there.
Those complaining that Israel's gesture is somehow weakened because it is demolishing the buildings in the settlements should check their facts. It is the Palestinians, and not the Israelis, calling for their demolition because the PA does not know what to do with them. Leaving an island of plush houses within an ocean of the discontented poor will do only one thing: cause chaos.
Sebastian, London, England
It is a first step towards peace, recognizing both people right to live. The withdrawal should also include West Bank and resolve the status of the Palestinian refugees in neighbouring countries.
Jimmy, Ohio, USA
Well the USA was very generous to allow native Indians some to stay on poor and unwanted land. The same is happening to the Palestinians. The Gaza and the few remaining West Bank enclaves will be the biggest prisons in the world.
James Scobbie, Scotland
Abbas has made a wise (if unsafe) move. Both sides need to move lockstep, carefully, towards peace mutually affirming and supporting each others policies for normalization. Progress, finally, let's hope its lasting!
David James, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Is the withdrawal good for Israel? Absolutely, at least on the short run. It will help greatly on the diplomatic/public relations front and might make it easier for the security forces. Is it good for the Palestinians? Yes, as long as they are able to manage their own business peacefully and effectively. But is it going to work properly? Unfortunately I'm not so sure about that. Terrorist groups like Hamas will always find an excuse to kill Israelis.
What most people fail to realise is that the Palestinian government is the one insisting that the homes be torn down. The withdrawal is a big step for the Israeli government and one that is not all that popular here. If it goes through peacefully maybe there is some hope for this region after all.
Charlotte, Dane living in Israel
Lets not fool ourselves. The reasons for the Gaza withdrawal are purely economic, demographic, and military. Sharon can claim that Israel has made great concessions and it is time the Palestinians accept any deal that gives them the least amount of land possible. Do not be fooled. The Gaza Strip, although I am happy to see Israel leave it, is a very small piece of land. It will be used as an Israeli excuse to keep more of the West Bank. We shall wait and see if they attempt to give anything away after the Gaza withdrawal.
Moe Goldstien, Washington, DC , USA
The Gaza withdrawal is long overdue. All settlements outside of Israel's 1948 borders are illegal. The whole trouble between these two peoples has been caused by the greed of a few. It is time for the UNO to take over the duties once carried out by British Mandate Forces. Perhaps then, peace may return to the Middle East.
Kenneth Ingle, Bielefeld, Germany
It's a good first step, but it needs to be followed by the withdrawal of Israelis from East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Otherwise the Gaza withdrawal will accomplish nothing in the long term.
Jon Davis, USA
The Israeli government has time and time again taken huge risks in the interest of peace. Now is the time for the other side to show what they are truly made of. If the Israelis are willing to force the settlers out, the Palestinian authorities should make the effort to control their militant groups and allow for a peaceful transition.
Brad, Tacoma, USA
The Gaza evacuation is wrong. Israel should stand its ground and take care of its own as it has done for hundreds of years.
Joel, Northeast Tennessee
Israel has been occupying Palestinian land for so long, it's about time they withdrew and started paying reparation to the Palestinians for all the suffering they have caused them.
I support the Gaza withdrawal but find it remarkable that people are responding to Israel's unilateral withdrawal by questioning Israel's motives. The formula for resolution of the conflict is and always has been "land for peace." But Israel continues to give up land it gained in self-defence during the six-day-war without receiving any "peace" in return. Upon Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, the ball will squarely and fairly be in the Palestinian court to finally deliver on their obligation to stop terrorism and incitement to violence. If terrorism continues, Israel should make no further concessions.
Yuval, New York, USA
I think it should have been done ages ago and that the building of new settlements should have stopped in accordance of the peace treaties signed. Israel has built the wall, which is in my opinion more on the side of psychological warfare and shattering the Palestinian self confidence and self-worth, creating a huge jail and dividing many families, land and even Israeli citizens. American tax payers need to direct their attention to all the money that is being spent and given to Israelis for leaving land in which they had no reason to live on in the first place.
This is a good first step towards resolving the crisis. The Israeli move should get the acknowledgement it deserves and the Palestinians should be assisted to make the territory part of their viable state.
Dr Wilson, London
I am elated that the forty year occupation is to come to an end, occupation has no place in society. It is not a solution. The Palestinians will now have the opportunity they have been waiting for, for so long. I sincerely hope they seize it as well as their Arab brothers. This is to be the beginning.
For those that do not understand why the houses are being demolished, please, check your facts. The PA was given the choice, and decided they wanted the houses demolished, as they will need to fit many more people in the area than Israel currently does. Bear in mind please that Israel will leave in place all the infrastructure; water, gas, sewer system etc.
Olivia, London, UK
At last a bit of compromise in this whole sorry mess. If both sides were prepared for co-operation or compromise on a day to day basis then maybe things wouldn't be so bloody and hate filled in the West Bank.
Jason Robinson, Dublin, Ireland
The Gaza pullout is a unilateral move by Israel for economic reasons. It has little or nothing to do with the peace since the Palestinian government is not part of the plan and Israel intends to demolish the settlements leaving piles of rubble. They do want the US to pay $2.3bn for the move.
Politically, Hamas stands to gain in elections this month and in December. The situation will get worse.
Waldo Rung, Rock Island, IL USA
It's a step on the way, but only a token gesture towards giving Palestinians their land and livelihoods back. Israel should fully withdraw and pay compensation to the Palestinians for the terror and suffering they have caused through their illegal occupation.
Phillip, New Zealand
Why should it be given up? Do you think Israel's Arab neighbours would give up territory if they had won it during one of the wars? Absolutely not. I think its a mistake. Perception is reality and the withdrawal will be perceived as weakness. This will prompt more attacks and harsh retaliation by Israel.
David D, Austin, TX, US
This is clearly a step towards war. Once again the Israelis have made a real concession to Palestinian demands without any actions or even promises on the other side as attempts to attack Israeli citizens continues unabated and virtually unchallenged by the PA. This will embolden those who think they can destroy Israel through continued violence. When this happens, all further possible concessions will become politically impossible for any Israeli government. This is where the Palestinians demonstrate whether or not there is any justification left for them to have a state of their own.
I will not address the larger political undertones that many people have stated here in these comments. What I will say though is that while thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are without adequate shelter, why is Israel demolishing settlers former homes? This is done with US approval, even as the US donates millions for Palestinian housing construction. Couldn't these homes be given to the PA and then families in need as an olive branch of reconciliation? This makes no sense to me whatsoever.
Phil, St. John's, Canada
This should be expressed as an optimistic start. Yes Israel still controls the air space, land and sea access, but it is also giving a chance to Palestinians to show they can work together to start a civil society. Let's say it out loud. Israel cannot control Palestinians forever and Palestinians cannot deny Israel's right to exist. There are many, many ordinary citizens in both societies who are willing to co-exist.
Asad, Toronto, Canada
I fear that such action - positive as it may appear to many - is simply a ploy to ensure that the West Bank will be annexed and declared part of Israel and all that Palestinians will be able to call their state is Gaza. Moreover, even the withdrawal of Gaza amounts to very little. The Israelis will still control the coast, the land and the air. A true peace settlement will only be achievable once the Israelis withdraw from all of West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem and allow Palestinians to run a truly sovereign state and decades of misery.
Richard Clifton, Sussex
It's a good start. The ball is now in the Palestinians court. Let's see if they are truly serious about wanting peace.
Jason Harris, Dallas, TX
I think the withdrawal is the right thing to do. It should have been done a long time ago. I am, however, a bit sceptical, as to the political atmosphere there. Hamas has refused to join Abbas' coalition. This may create a political struggle, igniting chaos and anarchy. There seems to be no intent by neither side to ensure a secure political climate after the pullout.
Yossi, Tel Aviv, Israel
The BBC reports a recent study by the Strategic Assessments Initiative which found the Palestinian security forces "weak, ill-equipped and divided". Militant Palestinians will welcome this because it gives them a marvellous opportunity to put their own groups in power. Is this really what Prime Minister Sharon wishes to achieve?
Dr Paul Fidlon, Armidale, NSW, Australia
It is a definitive step towards peace, provided that terrorism stops thoroughly. Otherwise, the situation is liable to return to the previous situation or even to become worse.
Jacob Salzstein, Sao Paulo, Brazil
International Law requires full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza. A withdrawal only from Gaza after long years of a brutal occupation can hardly be viewed as a realization of Palestinians' right to self-determination. It is merely a prettier mask over the face of control and oppression.
Omar Baddar, Memphis, TN, USA
As an Israeli citizen in the US, I say the withdrawal from Gaza is long overdue, even if it will do nothing to improve Israel's security. Israel's withdrawal from Gaza will benefit Israel only economically, since its government will no longer need to subsidise the expensive development and protection of Gaza settlements. Hopefully, the withdrawal will highlight the need within Israel to end state financing of religion. Although I don't see the withdrawal as concluding peacefully, or concluding in any tangible improvement in lifestyle for those living in Gaza, I still think it is appropriate to end the unnecessary occupation of Gaza.
Hans Berger, Charlottesville USA
Israel is removing people who are and have been living illegally for several generations. They have been replacing the original Palestinian population with their fancy villas while the Palestinians have to watch from across the street from their refugee camps. And yet we are still asked to sympathize with Israel?
Lena Dirbashi, Dallas, TX USA
The Gaza withdrawal raises more questions that it provides answers. With Israel controlling all land, air and sea access to the Gaza strip, will it simply become a large prison? Will the often times corrupt and incompetent PA be able to deal with the highest population density in the world, astronomical poverty and squalid living conditions of the Palestinians there? Does "disengagement" from Gaza mean a consolidation of the existing West Bank settlements, as hinted to by Ariel Sharon himself? Perhaps only time will tell, but if the history of this conflict has taught us anything, it's that there is little cause for great optimism.
Joseph Farag, Waterloo, Canada
I think it is worth trying. The results can't possibly be worse than what exists right now. I hope the Palestinians will take this for the opportunity that it is. I wish them all the luck in the world.
Wade M, Chicago, USA
Israel's withdrawal from Gaza might be seen as a step forward, but it is not enough. They are merely extending the habitable area in the world's largest open-air prison. As long as Israel continues controlling the Palestinian coastline, airspace and Gaza's borders with Egypt, besides those with Israel, Palestine will stay boxed in, and the occupation will continue.
Fernando Zambrana, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
If the Palestinians can keep the terrorists from crossing into Israel - and I think it is a big "if", then the pullout is a good thing. Probably they shouldn't have built the settlements in the first place. Personally, I don't feel the pull out is going to satisfy the extremists.
Joanne Cadkin, United States
All the elements are in place to see if the people of Gaza are ready for statehood. If they choose to build rather than destroy, if they choose construction rather than hate. Hating the Jews will not build a state. The world is watching.
B Montgomery, Birmingham, Al, US
The Palestinians have what they want now, a homeland. If the terror attacks persist, it goes to show it's not peace they want, but the destruction if Israel. I hope for the sake of humanity the violence will stop.
Dain, Washington DC, USA
With its borders, airspace and resources under Israeli control, the Gaza Strip will become nothing more than a 360 square km jail cell. This is hardly a victory. Israel will retain its position as the captors of the Palestinian people.
It is a vital step toward peace in a region whose conflicts revolve around holy land. These settlements were taken by force from ordinary Palestinians and should be returned.
Andrew Wood, Toronto, Canada
All this really shows is who really is at the centre of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: fundamentalist Israelis who believe all of Palestine is their "Promised Land." Moderate and liberal Israelis need to keep a lid on them. Let's not also forget it was one of them who assassinated Yitzhak Rabin during a great time of Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation. If the state of Israel is having this much trouble evicting these people from Gaza, let's not contemplate what will happen when eviction orders are granted for the thousands who live in the Palestinian areas of the pre-1967 boundaries.
SV, NYC, USA
If it can bring peace, or move the peace initiative along, then it can only be a good thing.
Brian Quinn, Pittsburgh, USA
We welcome this decision. Since we all know that the land actually goes to the Palestinians, it will spearhead on bringing the peace in that region thus throughout the whole world. Those people really need to figure out what to do, to end this chaotic situation that seems might last forever causing lives both in the West and the Middle East.
Mosabbir Hossain, Waukesha, Wisconsin, US
It would go a long way to easing relations, and the conflict. Both sides have acknowledged big mistakes and it's time to take a more mature attitude towards resolution.
Wallis Parnelle, Austin, Texas, US
It's a cynical move from Sharon to try and preserve his West Bank settlements and East Jerusalem occupation.
Chris Thompson, Grenoble, France
I believe that as long as there are radicals amongst the Palestinians - the withdrawal will not improve much.
Moshe Fried, Melbourne, Australia
The withdrawal is a good sign. I hope that the withdrawal will not lead to chaos, since peace can be achieved through mutual understanding and cooperation between both sides.
The withdrawal by Israel from the West Bank and other settlements, is the right step in the right direction. In fact, it is a very good thing to do and it will not only help to improve security but also help to reduce tension in the area. It is time to give what belongs to Caesar to Caesar and that of God to God. This measure will help to convince the Palestinians that Israel is true to its own word and the land they feel rightfully belongs to them is given back to them. I do hope Hamas and other groups will lay down their destructive weapons and start advocating for peace.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA