Knesset Passes Historic Pullout Bill

(IFM) Marking a turning point in the history of the nation, the Knesset approved the Disengagement Implementation Law by a wide majority on Wednesday, empowering the government to pay NIS 3.8 billion to 9,000 settlers from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank, and to begin their evacuation in five months, The Jerusalem Post reported. The law was approved in a 59-40 vote with five abstentions. MKs from the Likud, Labor, Shinui, Yahad, and the United Arab List supported the law. The National Religious Party, National Union, Shas and 17 Likud MKs, including Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and coalition chair Gideon Sa’ar, voted against.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon got another boost when the Knesset expressed resounding opposition to a referendum on the disengagement.

The Knesset voted in 1982 to evacuate the Sinai settlements, but the vote Wednesday cedes settlements in areas that are considered to be part of the Land of Israel. The four isolated northern West Bank settlements are Ganim, Kadim, Homesh, and Sa-Nur.