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Sharon: Israel Plans 'Disengagement' from Palestinians - 2003-12-19


Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says Israel will begin cutting itself off from Palestinians unless there is progress in stalled peace talks.

Mr. Sharon says part of his disengagement plan will involve speeding up construction of a controversial security barrier and relocating some Jewish settlements to improve security defenses for the Israeli state.

The prime minister added that he still believes the internationally-backed plan known as the "road map" is the best path to reaching peace between the two sides. But he said Israel would act on its own in coming months if Palestinian officials do not follow the plan.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia says he is disappointed by what he called Mr. Sharon's "threats."

In his speech, Mr. Sharon said Israel would consult the United States about any unilateral steps it planned on taking. The White House says it would oppose any Israeli move that falls outside the "road map" peace plan.

Israeli opposition leader Shimon Peres rejected Mr. Sharon's comments, saying he was disappointed.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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