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Israel releases details of pullout plan

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Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon talks about the "disengagement" plan.

Palestinians have reacted angrily to Sharon's withdrawal plan.
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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel's "disengagement" plan, endorsed by President Bush, would evacuate the country's settlements and military posts from Gaza and a northern section of the West Bank by 2005, according to copies published Friday in three major Israeli newspapers.

With the Middle East peace process stalled, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon wants Israel to pull out of Gaza as well as to dismantle four settlements and outposts in the northern West Bank.

Sharon will put the plan before his Likud party for approval in a referendum next month.

Palestinian leaders have reacted angrily to Bush's endorsement of the plan. They said the plan amounts to an illegitimate land grab by Israelis and a unilateral attempt by Sharon to set the borders between Israel and a Palestinian state, rather than negotiating them as part of a final settlement.

The text of the disengagement plan was leaked by government sources to the Israeli papers Ma'ariv, Yedioth Ahronoth and Haaretz.

As it now stands, the plan establishes that there will be no Israeli settlement in Gaza in any future final-status agreement. But it adds that "in Judea and Samaria, some areas will remain part of the state of Israel, among them civilian settlements, military zones and places where Israel has additional interests."

Judea and Samaria largely constitute the West Bank, with Samaria filling much of the northern section. The disengagement move would "enable Palestinian territorial contiguity in the area of northern Samaria," the plan asserts.

It says Israel would leave evacuated settlements intact and proposes an international body be established to take possession of the settlements and appraise their value, facilitating a transfer to Palestinians under which Israel could be reimbursed for costs.

It says Israel has formulated a unilateral disengagement plan that "will lead to a better security reality, at least in the long term."

"Israel has come to the conclusion that at present, there is no Palestinian partner with whom it is possible to make progress on a bilateral agreement," the plan said.

The plan says the pullout from Gaza and the removal of four settlements and military installations in northern Samaria "will reduce friction with the Palestinian population and has the potential to improve the fabric of Palestinian life and the Palestinian economy."

It says the disengagement move will not affect existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

"When there is evidence on the Palestinian side of the willingness, ability and actual realization of a fight against terror and of the implementation of the reforms stipulated in the 'road map,' it will be possible to return to the track of negotiations and dialogue," the plan says, referring to the peace proposal endorsed by the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia.

The road map lays out a series of steps Israel and the Palestinians must take with a view to ending the violence and establishing a Palestinian state in 2005

The disengagement plan also lists moves Israel would make to help Palestinians, including improving the transportation infrastructure in the West Bank "with the aim of enabling Palestinian transportation contiguity in Judea and Samaria" and making "Palestinian economic and commercial activity easier" in the area.

Under the plan, Israel would not halt construction of a controversial barrier that juts into portions of the West Bank.

Israel says the barrier will block Palestinians from attacking it from the West Bank. Palestinians call the barrier a land grab, saying it leaves many Palestinians cut off from farms, schools and hospitals as it winds its way through portions of the West Bank.

Bush said this week the security barrier should be "temporary rather than permanent."

Israel vows to maintain military presence on Egypt-Gaza border

Israel seized the West Bank from Jordan and Gaza from Egypt in 1967 during the Six-Day War and began building settlements soon after in those areas.

Israeli forces will move out of Gaza under disengagement, but the plan says the country will "supervise and guard the external envelope on land, will maintain exclusive control in the airspace of Gaza and will continue to conduct military activities in the sea space of the Gaza Strip."

"Israel reserves for itself the basic right of self-defense, including taking preventative steps as well as responding by using force against threats that will emerge from the Gaza Strip," the plan says.

Israel would maintain a military presence along the border between Gaza and Egypt, according to the plan.

Israel may expand "the area in which the military activity will be carried out" along the border if necessary, the plan says, adding that the country will considering evacuating the area if the "security reality" allows it.

Israeli forces also would remain in parts of the West Bank aside from the northern section already mentioned.

"In the rest of the Judea and Samaria territories, existing security activity will continue," the plan says. "However, in accordance with the circumstances, Israel will consider reducing its activity in Palestinian cities.

"Israel will work toward reducing the number of checkpoints in Judea and Samaria as a whole."

The plan also says, "Advice, aid and instruction will be given to Palestinian security forces for the purpose of fighting terror and maintaining public order by American, British, Egyptian, Jordanian or other experts, as will be agreed upon by Israel."

Economic arrangements between Israel and the Palestinians would generally remain the same, the plan says, adding that Israel favorably views the continued involvement of international humanitarian organizations assisting Palestinians.

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