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Israel Shelves Plan to Pull Out Of Settlements In West Bank
Critics said the attacks from southern Lebanon and Gaza showed it was folly to have abandoned those areas without a deal to ensure some authority remained there to curb attacks.
"I think that it is clear to everyone that the unilateral disengagement is a mistake," said Eli Yishai, minister of industry, trade and labor in Olmert's cabinet. "It's wrong to give up land unilaterally. It's clear to everyone that now it's canceled."
Scrapping the withdrawal plan brought mixed reaction from both sides of the long-running settlement controversy. Dror Etkes, director of the Peace Now Settlement Watch, said the government's plan for some withdrawals was better than no withdrawal. But "the reason they wanted to do it unilaterally is that they wanted to pay less" in terms of land, he said. "What they are willing to pay is something that not a single Palestinian was ready to buy."
Eventually, Etkes said, Israel will have to negotiate with the Palestinians. He said that process would inevitably result in removing far more settlements than Olmert's government proposed. "Every day that passes, Israel is intensifying the dilemma," Etkes said.
Avraham Diskin, a political scientist at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a supporter of unilateral withdrawal, said the Gaza pullout was done "only with the stick and no carrots" and should have been accompanied by aid to the Palestinians.
"Unfortunately, there is not much room for negotiation right now," he said. "There's too much conflict."
Special correspondent Samuel Sockol contributed to this report.