‘We won’t put up with violence’ – Ariel Sharon’s message to settlers determined to scupper the Gaza pullout.
The Israeli prime minister reiterated the disengagement plan would go ahead as scheduled while on a tour of Nitzan in the south of the country. Houses are being built there to accommodate some of those due to be evacuated. They will be arriving in August, when the relocation of eight and a half thousand Israelis from all 21 Gaza settlements begins. Sharon said peaceful protest was legitimate, but that the government would not accept the use of force against soldiers. Meanwhile security talks between Israel and the Palestinians have reportedly made progress on transferring Bethlehem to Palestinian control. Tulkarm and Jericho have already been handed over. The two sides have also been discussing co-ordinating the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. They are aiming to finalise a plan by the end of July. Israel wants the Palestinian Authority to rein in extremists who might stage attacks to try to make the pullout look like a retreat under fire.