The Knesset, Israel’s parliament, voted 59-40 to approve Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to pull out of the Gaza Strip and dismantle 21 Jewish settlements there. Four more settlements will be uprooted in Samaria. The vote reflected a bizarre realignment of the Knesset in which dovish parties came to Sharon’s aid, while his traditional hawkish allies voted against, including 17 members of his own Likud party. Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres, the architect of the failed Oslo Accords, called the vote "a clear decision for peace." The Council of Jewish Settlements called it "a black day for democracy." The evacuation is set to begin in the middle of July.
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