Israeli parliament approves final step before implementation of Gaza disengagement plan can begin

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Israel's Knesset has voted to approve the compensation package for Israeli settlers who will be impacted by the proposed disengagement from the Gaza Strip. Eight thousand Israelis will be evacuated from the Gaza Strip and four settlements in the northern West Bank removed.

MKs voted 59–40 to approve a series of measures that will compensate the settlers who face relocation under the plan, with five abstentions from Arab MKs. Prime Minister Sharon's Likud party was split, with 18 MKs voting for it and 17 against.

The $1bn plan will now go before Sharon's cabinet on Sunday, where it is expected to be passed. After that, the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip could begin this summer.

However Sharon's government faces collapse if his budget is not passed by the Knesset by the end of March. If that deadline is not met, elections will be called and the plan may well be stopped.

Last week, Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed a ceasefire after four years of violence.