Tuesday, March 16, 2004

46 to 45

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has parliamentary support for his evacuation of the Gaza strip:

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has won narrow backing from parliament to pursue his proposal to evacuate Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip.

In a speech to parliament, Mr Sharon ruled out negotiations with the Palestinians, charging that they were failing to stop attacks on Israelis.

Israel has launched a rapid review of security after a double suicide bombing in Ashdod, which killed 10 Israelis.

Israeli helicopters destroyed two alleged weapons factories in Gaza City.

Also on Monday, troops at a West Bank checkpoint arrested a 10-year-old boy carrying a bomb into Israel, the army said.

"It was a pretty serious bomb, between seven and 10 kilograms (about 15-22 pounds)," an officer told Israeli Army Radio.

"It was ready for detonation, apparently with a mobile phone."

Sources said the boy - a porter known to the Israelis - had no idea what he was carrying, and that he was released after questioning.

Mr Sharon won a non-binding vote in the Israeli parliament by 46 votes to 45, on his plan for disengagement from the Palestinians.

He gave no details of the plan, saying discussions were continuing and the proposals had not been finalised.

But Mr Sharon pledged to co-ordinate his unilateral move with the US - and ruled out political negotiations with the Palestinians.


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