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Bush Backs Sharon's Gaza Settlement Plan

President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon depart from a joint press conference at the White House, April 14, 2004. Reuters Limited hide caption

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Reuters Limited

President George Bush strongly supports Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to keep control of some settlements as Israel pulls out of Gaza and parts of the West Bank, setting a new tone in U.S. Mideast policy.

Previous U.S.-brokered peace deals between Israel and the Palestinians have required the removal of all settlements. Bush also said Palestinian refugees should settle in a future Palestinian state, not in Israel — a position leader Yasser Arafat says will end the peace process. Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia also criticized Bush's statements.

NPR's Michele Kelemen reports. Hear NPR's Robert Siegel and Samuel Lewis, former ambassador to Israel.