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Last Updated: Monday, 29 August 2005, 18:49 GMT 19:49 UK
More W Bank settlements 'to go'
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon was once revered as a hero by Jewish settlers
Israel will relinquish control of some West Bank settlements in final status agreements with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said.

Major settlement blocs will remain in Israeli hands but other settlements will be ceded, he told Israeli TV.

Mr Sharon said a definitive map would only be presented in final peace talks with the Palestinians.

His comments came days after Israel closed all its settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the West Bank.

"Not all the settlements in Judea and Samaria today will remain," Mr Sharon said, using the biblical names for the West Bank.

But more West Bank settlement pullouts are unlikely in the near future says the BBC's James Reynolds in Jerusalem, as peace talks have yet to be planned.

It is also important, our correspondent says, to balance Mr Sharon's remarks with what he has said for the last two years: that Israel will hold on to large groups of settlements inside the West Bank.

'No more disengagement'

Large settlements, such as Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem, or Ariel in the centre of the West Bank, would not be given up, he stressed, although he did not name them explicitly.

"These settlements will remain in our hands and will be linked territorially to Israel. These blocs have first rate strategic importance for Israel," Mr Sharon said.

There are approximately 450,000 Jewish settlers living in some 120 settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Interviewed by Israel's Channel 10 TV station, Mr Sharon described the pullout from Gaza and four isolated West Bank settlements, completed in August, as a "one-time" event.

Israel's final borders will only be discussed as part of permanent peace negotiations under the terms of the US-backed "road map" plan, he said.

"There is not another stage. There are no more stages of disengagement."

Mr Sharon's interview came one day after a suicide bombing in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba.

The attack, which injured several people at a bus station, was claimed by Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad.

It was the first attack inside Israel since the pullout from Gaza.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas met with rival factions and Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman in Gaza on Monday, and insisted that a shaky truce signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in February remains in place.


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