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15 August, 2005 - Published 11:01 GMT
Israel begins Gaza Strip pull-out
The Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip has begun, with soldiers giving Israeli settlers forty-eight hours to leave or be forcibly removed. It's the first time Israel has withdrawn from land claimed by the Palestinians. But will it lead to peace? This report from Roger Hardy:
The withdrawal is important for the Israelis, the Palestinians and the international community, but it poses considerable challenges for all of them. For Israel it's a departure from past policy. It's the first time the country has relinquished territory the Palestinians regard as part of a future independent state, moreover it's done so unilaterally, not as part of a peace agreement. As such, it marks an ideological turning-point for the Jewish state.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the man who's taken this unprecedented gamble, will need to show his people it really has made them safer. For the Palestinians, the pullout offers a chance to show they're ready for statehood. But it's also a test of whether their leaders can control security while also fending off the challenge of the militant Islamic group Hamas, which is anxious to show that the pullout is the result, not of moderation, but of armed struggle.
For the international community, and in particular the Bush administration in Washington, the challenge is to show the Israeli withdrawal really can revive the peace process. Many observers believe that will require time and a degree of outside involvement which has so far been lacking.
Roger Hardy, BBC Middle East analyst
poses considerable challenges
a departure from past policy
an ideological turning-point
revive the peace process