Sharon: 'Painful' Decision on Settlements

In addition to endorsing the removal of 25 settlements, Israel's cabinet also went ahead with the planned security barrier segmenting parts of the West Bank.

The route includes more than 12 Jewish settlements southwest of Jerusalem on the Israeli side of the barrier. It would trap about 18,000 Palestinians on the Israeli side. Israeli critics say they will appeal to the Supreme Court.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the decision to withdraw some settlements is a very painful, difficult vote. Sharon, a long-time backer of the settlers, has raised the specter of civil war.

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