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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 August 2005, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
What next for Gaza and West Bank?
Israeli settlers seat at the gate of the Gaza Strip settlement of Ganei Tal

Israeli soldiers have completed the eviction of Jewish settlers from Gaza and West Bank.

Protesters at the West Bank settlements of Sanur and Homesh were the last to leave, following token resistance.

Most Israelis support the pullout, but some feel the government has given in to Palestinian militant groups, and worry that further withdrawals will follow.

Palestinian critics point out that Gaza will remain under Israeli control, and that they are being denied a political say in the disengagement process.

What do you think of the West Bank withdrawal? Are you an Israeli or Palestinian living in the areas affected? How will life change after the withdrawal? And what will happen next?

We discussed the Gaza withdrawal and the future for Israeli and Palestinian relations in our global phone-in programme Talking Point.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of views received:

The real test of their sincerity lies ahead
Munir Akhtar, Rochdale, UK
Israel has only taken the first step to normality. They have vacated a small piece of land grabbed by force. The real test of their sincerity lies ahead. Both sides need to learn to tolerate each other. To expect Palestinians to dismantle the resistance groups at this gesture is naivety in the extreme. I hope that both Israel and Palestinians accept the reality of two people living side by side.
Munir Akhtar, Rochdale, UK

It may be late in coming but it is a first great step hopefully on the road to peace in the Middle East . Israel has made the first step, the Palestinians must surely follow behind closely. Everyone should start to work on the here and now and stop blaming past actions by various parties. The Middle East - the centre of the vast majority of all major religions in the world today should be made as a whole into a demilitarised zone under world protection. I hope the Israelis and Palestinians fine the optimum solution to this sad episode.
Jacquie, Italy

As much as it might be distressing to watch the images of Jewish people being evicted, nobody can dispute the fact that these settlements have been illegally built under international law. It is time to give a little to the Palestinian people and give them a bit of the land and freedom back. The Jews who are choosing to protest about disengagement are being extremely narrow-minded and selfish.
Jon Fowler, Manama, Bahrain

I think it's about time for something like this to happen. The closer the Palestinians are to their own state, with some sort of an economy, I think there will be less focus on Israel and more focus on hard work, family, and peace. Poverty, oppression and hopelessness leads to extremism. I have no doubt the violence will subside.
Ian, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Why do people call this a victory for terrorism? Ordinary Palestinians want the withdrawal of Israeli settlers from the Gaza strip. Just because a minority of extremists want the same thing, it is not reason enough to deny the majority. Sharon has given a victory to the Palestinian people. What surprised me most of all was how few (8,500 people) were caught up in this huge problem which has repercussions on a global scale. I sincerely hope that the Israeli government digs deep into its pockets to provide these people with a significantly better quality of life then the one they were previously enjoying. Otherwise I think we can only look forward to more of the same in the future...
Anonymous, Madrid, Spain

I can't believe they didn't realise that this day would eventually arrive
Ramon Casha, Attard, Malta
While I can understand that the strong emotions from the evicted settlers, it's not like this was unforeseen. Those Israelis establishing their homes in the settlements knew they were building on sand. I can't believe they didn't realise that this day would eventually arrive.
Ramon Casha, Attard, Malta

General Sharon has shown that he is a true warrior by taking this bold, courageous and bitter decision, securing the future for the children of Israel and the Middle East in general, it will be up to them to co-exist in peace. He has certainly laid the foundation; he will go down in history as man of unconventional wisdom and foresight.
Donald Lyall, Auckland, New Zealand

Palestinians and Israelis need to completely separate their lives, economies, and basic interaction. Israel needs to complete its security fence and dismantle remote West Bank settlements. Final borders will be eventually redrawn and that will only involve about 10% of the West Bank. Until then, Palestinian freedom can increase and Israel's democracy can solidify.
David, Portland, USA

Now that the settlements have been dismantled, it's up to the PA to live up to its end of the bargain and curb the activities of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The withdrawal from the settlements is an act of good faith by Israel, and the Palestinians should respond accordingly.
Gareth, Swansea, Wales, UK

Let's put the bitterness behind us and look to the future
Steve, Reading, UK
There will always be bitterness when decisions involve politics, as most decisions do. Let's put the bitterness behind us and look to the future. This can be a win-win situation if handled properly by all sides.
Steve, Reading, UK

The settlers' eviction is a risky business, in my opinion. The extremists will claim that as their victory and will try to use it to inflame public opinion. On the other hand, Israel's government may find itself divided and weakened, a fact that won't go unnoticed by Islamic extremists. Furthermore, the Israeli right wing will come out stronger from this situation. If they manage to achieve a majority in the parliament, things may turn really nasty.
Ricardo Mazurek, Sao Paulo, Brazil

This is not a victory or a defeat to anyone, but just a demonstration of the human will to resolve the conflicts that are deeply rooted in our societies. Let this unite the peace loving Jews and Arabs together. They've got to understand each other genuinely, and not according to any religious or political claim, in achieving the ultimate peace in that region.
Bala, Toronto

The withdrawal is probably justified for internal Israeli demographic reasons. However, it is a very big blow to the fight against terrorism. How can we discourage terrorism now when the terrorists are handed a supposed victory like this?
Michael, Modiin, Israel

Now it is up to Abbas to dismantle Hamas and Islamic Jihad to prove he is sincere about peace and having a democratic state. If terrorists strike Israel now, Israel should respond hard.
Nathan, Australia

This is a no-win situation. I can see both sides of the argument
Doug Courtnet, St Louis, USA
This is a no-win situation. I can see both sides of the argument. Having lived there as a child, and knowing what land they are fighting over, I cannot understand why the Israelis would want to stay. I'd sooner live in Bolton.
Doug Courtnet, St Louis, USA

Israel has taken a calculated risk; they will return to Gaza and build more settlements. They still control the borders and Gaza airspace the Palestinian police are not in a position to hold the peace as the factions are too strong if the international community does not supply a peace keeping force and the settlements in the West bank are stopped the peace will always be controlled by Israel and the occupation will never end.
Ahamd Hmoud, Amman, Jordan

This move of the Israelis shows, among other things, that Israel has strong leadership, something that the Palestinians never had. Israel knows how to make very painful concessions, how to compromise when necessary. Something that the Palestinian government (if there is any) was never able to do.
Ilia, Chicago, USA

This is a big step to the Middle East peace road map. The process is very painful, because often every constructive decision or change is painful. Both Israelites and Palestine should cooperate to attain the long awaited peace in the region.
Aikande Kwayu, Moshi

Yes, it is good news for all Palestinians. Palestinian territory should belong to them. Withdrawal of Israeli troops will establish a good relationship between the two countries. As I'm not a citizen of either country I welcome that decision taken by Israel. But militant groups should stop their violence over Israelis. I think the withdrawing of troops brings a sweet relation between the two countries.
Dhruba Sharma, Kathmandu, Nepal

Israel still controls the borders, airspace and coastline of Gaza
Jason Dimmell, Ottawa, Canada
Israel still controls the borders, airspace and coastline of Gaza and as such it is still "occupied". The reason for the Palestinian uprising against the illegal occupation still exists and therefore we can expect the cycle of violence to continue.
Jason Dimmell, Ottawa, Canada

Now is the time for richer nations (including the US) to get in quickly and support the Palestinian Authority to develop an economy, security and civil institutions. It will be a lot cheaper than the military option we've seen for so long. Yes, the cynics can have their day with Israel's motivation and the weakness of the Palestinian state but let's move forward.
Gary Ockenden, Nelson, Canada

Just like Israelis have the right to security; Palestinians have the right to freedom.
Hamam, Thornhill, Canada

In the US we wonder why all that perfectly good housing is being knocked down. It seems like such a pointless waste.
John B, Windermere, Florida

A lot has been said about this Israeli withdrawal but I have seen no explanation of where the displaced Israelis are going to live. Are they being provided with homes? Are they being put into refugee camps? Can someone please answer? Perhaps the BBC could mention what is to happen in one of their news broadcasts, something they have ignored so far.
Ron Kirkpatrick , Bruton, England

I believe that Israel will eventually evacuate remote settlements in heavily populated areas of the West Bank, and also cede part of East Jerusalem for a future Palestinian state, once it assumes responsibility for security. But returning exactly to 1967 would not only evict about half a million people. It would also leave Israel extremely vulnerable to attacks from hills adjacent to cities and main roads. Those who refer to the 1967 borders again and again as a holy mark should remember than within those borders Israel was attacked by all it neighbours with the purpose of its complete destruction. What counts is the life of people, and as long as the existence of Israel is not guaranteed, the 1967 borders are absolutely meaningless.
Oren, Jerusalem, Israel

I don't understand why everyone assumes that Gaza will suddenly be turned into a democratic paradise. It is not only the presence of 8,000 settlers that is stifling the Palestinians, it is the occupation and control of land, air, sea, water supply and prison walls. Israel still controls all of these despite the dismantling of illegal settlements.
Ibrahim, London, England, UK

The ball is now firmly in the Palestinian Authority's court
Leigh Webber, Rabat, Morocco
The ball is now firmly in the Palestinian Authority's court. I don't think the world wants to hear attempts to blame the Palestinians' problems on Israel anymore. This is the PA's chance to implement credible governance. With pressure mounting from Hamas and other extremists the whole world is asking the same question - can Abbas govern the Palestinians?
Leigh Webber, Rabat, Morocco

Good as it is to see the Israeli government pulling back from Gaza, its motives seem unclear. If the pull out were an acknowledgement of Palestinian ownership of the land or International Law and a first move towards peace it would be welcome. However the evidence point to the pull out possibly being a clever political decision in order to claim more significant land in the West Bank (where building continues). I hope that the Palestinians take the opportunity to start to put together a better government in the Gaza Strip and suspend terrorist activity within and operating from this area
Geoff, Sheffield, UK

This move is political genius from Ariel Sharon. He has won the favour of the west by removing people from Gaza. But he will continue to expand in the West Bank. The PA have a tough task at hand. Quell terrorism and bring jobs to a troubled economy, the first the key to success for Palestinians.
Tom, Madras, India (Brit)

This is an essential first step for peace in the region
Paul Hague, West Sussex
I am English born, 64 years of age and as an export manager, have travelled to the region. This is an essential first step for peace in the region. Second step must be a complete withdrawal from Gaza, West Bank and all Palestine. Then and only then, could negotiations begin regarding joint religious sites e.g. Jerusalem. No half measures will bring about peace in the region.
Paul Hague, West Sussex

Hamas said it will continue its terrorist attacks. Abbas said the PA will not disarm Hamas. Anyone who knows to make 1+1 knows what will be next.
Oren, Jerusalem, Israel

When many, many more Palestinian houses are being demolished and Palestinians forcibly removed by the Israeli Army throughout all these years did the US and the 'international' media (the two are almost the same) devote half the attention and coverage it has now given to the 'dispossessed' Jewish settlers? Thirty-eight years of continued occupation do not confer on these settlements a legal or indeed a moral status. The belated and 'gentle' removal of the Jewish settlers is as much dictated by what is perceived by Sharon to be in the Israeli self-interest and neither respect for international law nor concern for the ordinary Palestinians play any role in it.
Myint Zan, Sarawak Malaysia

What is next for Gaza is almost totally in the hands and minds of Hamas. If they want to reach some sort of peaceful accord with the Palestinian government and then with Israel, it will work. If they persist in touting the withdrawal as a victory for terrorism it won't.
Peter Del Bourgo, UK

The withdrawal at best may be a shrewd tactical move
Delayna Payne, Savannah, Georgia, USA
The longer term success or failure of the Gaza withdrawal will depend not only on the Palestinians' response but on the counter response of Israel. One would expect responsible leadership to have considered contingent responses. In short this withdrawal may be a case of either appeasement which will result in abject failure in the longer term, or of giving the Palestinians more rope with which to hang themselves. The withdrawal at best may be a shrewd tactical move. Should violence result Israel has better borders (militarily) to defend, and a better political defence for a militarily strong and more decisive response. These may be longer term gains for both parties.
Delayna Payne, Savannah, Georgia, USA

These withdrawals affect only a small area of the West Bank, and Israel will still control borders, ports and access. This is window dressing by Israel to show the rest of the world that they are making concessions, but these are meaningless in real terms.
Chris, Telford, UK

It is a great opportunity for the Arab nations to put their differences behind them and get together behind the PLO to ensure that the rebuilding of Gaza is peaceful, productive for the Palestinian people and provides a political alternative to Hammas that ensures a positive future for the returning refugees.
Nigel Darwent, Trinidad and Tobago

Terrorists have got new possibilities for their terrible actions and they have already promised to use them. So human rights have been violated for nothing. Terror will increase, Jews will continue to suffer. As usual.
Alexander, Israel

Those affected are merely the victims of circumstance
Pat Nathan, Adelaide, Australia
It is necessary for the evictions to continue till completed for the sake of world peace. Those affected are merely the victims of circumstance, and we hope that the Israeli government offers them sufficient compensation to start anew.
Pat Nathan, Adelaide, Australia

As an American I can't help but wonder if the Israeli people being dragged out of their homes won't cause more violence against the Palestine people. I would not leave my home for these people!
John M. Sundahl, Los Angeles, USA

I suggest everyone take a deep breath. Think of the future for yourself and your neighbour be he Jew or Muslim. Under the watchful eye of the world community the Palestinians in Gaza should be given the opportunity to determine that future. Should terrorists from either side foment trouble, squash them be they either Jew, Muslim, Christian or whomever.
Bob Van den Broeck, Vancouver, Washington, USA

Let's see if the Palestinians can make something positive out of this. They have the land. I don't want to see another ghetto and blaming the West and Israel for their problems.
Russ, California, USA

I see this as an incredibly important step towards peace
John, Watford, UK
I am 41-years-old and as far back as I can remember, I have watched and read news reports regarding the Palestine/Israel situation. I see this as an incredibly important step towards peace. I only hope that this can be continued with Palestinian groups such as Hamas ceasing their activities.
John, Watford, UK

For once, the Israelis know how it feels to be forced out of 'home'. The Palestinians have suffered the same fate for so long now. The eviction is just a matter of justice being served. But I doubt the Israelis will settle without 'bargaining', after they think they've made a 'sacrifice'.
John Gilchrist, Birmingham, Alabama

The Gaza settlers are the victims of their own government.
C Sachidananda Narayanan, Tirunelveli, India

I think it's a positive (if difficult) step for Israel to take - unfortunately some people are never satisfied; they campaigned for years for Israel to move out of Gaza and now it's happening they refuse to see it as a genuine move for peace. What worries me the most is what do Palestinians actually want - just the West Bank and Gaza or the whole of Israel as well? That's still the official aim of Hamas... so where will it end?
Isaac, Harrow, UK

It was political stupidity that created the settlements. But there was no way Israel could occupy that land forever. The leaving settlers should know that the pain they are going through is the same pain the Palestinians have endured for decades. I salute Israel for taking the bold decision, but it should not end there. The earlier they evacuate the rest of the Palestinian land, the earlier peace returns to the region.
Pasipameraziso, Harare, Zimbabwe

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