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Israel to retain control

by: Ross Dunn - Last updated: 2004-04-13

Ariel Sharon

Ariel Sharon

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says his country will retain control over at least five large Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank.

Speaking Monday, Mr. Sharon said only what he called Israeli "initiative" will ensure the future of such settlements.

The prime minister spoke a few hours before flying to the United States ahead of talks with President Bush on Israel's proposed pullout from the Gaza Strip. Mr. Sharon is expected to seek U.S. endorsement of the pullout plan.

He has said Israel will pull out of the Gaza Strip if the internationally-backed "road map" to peace between Israel and the Palestinians fails to produce results. But Palestinians say the Gaza pullout plans hides Israeli intentions to keep land in the West Bank.

In a separate development, reports from the Gaza Strip say Israeli soldiers have killed two Palestinian militants trying to infiltrate a Jewish settlement there. No settlers or soldiers were hurt in the clash.

The militant groups Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have claimed joint responsibility for the attempted attack in the settlement.

Story supplied by: VOAnews