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Sharon To Remain Israeli PM Despite Poll Setback - 2004-05-02


Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says he will remain at his post even though his Likud party has rejected a plan to withdraw from the Gaza strip.

Mr. Sharon expressed regret (late Sunday) at the result, but said he will discuss its ramifications with members of his and other parties and cabinet ministers.

Exit polls show between 56 and 62 percent of Likud members voted against the plan, which calls for the evacuation of 21 Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the West Bank.

The plan would also strengthen Israeli control over other parts of the West Bank that are considered Palestinian territory.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia urged Mr. Sharon to abandon the withdrawal plan and to resume negotiations under the internationally-backed "road map" to peace.

The vote came as Palestinian gunmen shot and killed a pregnant Israeli woman and her four young daughters near a Gaza Strip settlement.

Four Palestinians were later killed in an Israeli missile strike in the West Bank city of Nablus. No serious injuries were reported in another Israeli air raid on a Palestinian radio station in Gaza.

Information for this report is provided by Reuters and AFP.

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