Kenesset approves Sharon's withdrawal plan

Oct. 26, 2004 at 3:54 PM
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JERUSALEM, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- The Israeli Knesset Tuesday approved Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to move Israeli settlers out of Gaza by a 67-45 vote, with seven abstentions.

Six Arab members of the Knesset were among the abstentions.

Education Minister Limor Livnat, Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Ministers Yisrael Katz and Dan Naveh, were all absent from the first round of voting. The Ha'aretz news service said they entered the plenum as the initial results were being read and were given an opportunity to vote. They all voted in favor of the withdrawal.

Before the vote, Israeli Social Affairs Minister Zevulun Orlev said his National Religious Party would quit the government unless Sharon holds a referendum on the withdrawal plan. The NRP gave Sharon 14 days to make a decision.

Another controversy loomed concerning Sharon's reported determination to fire ministers who voted against his plan. Israel Radio said Sharon would dismiss Minister-Without-Portfolio Uzi Landau and Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Michael Ratzon for voting against the proposal.

Under the plan approved Tuesday, the cabinet must meet again to decide which Gaza settlements will be evacuated and when, the Jerusalem Post said. The Knesset then would have to approve the implementation legislation. Under the bill, each settler who leaves the Gaza Strip and relocates in Galilee or Negev would receive a $30,000 bonus.

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