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Gaza settlers hire lawyers to coordinate withdrawal

[JURIST] The Gaza Strip Regional Council has authorized a team of 100 lawyers and assessors to negotiate with the Israeli government about moving Gaza strip settlers as a group to the coastal area of Nitzanim in southern Israel [Haaretz report]. When Prime Minister Ariel Sharon [official website] announced his plan to withdraw from the the Gaza Strip, settlers indicated they would resist the plan. However, the council's decision indicates a weakening in the settlers' position. The Israeli government has also announced that the first compensation payments to settlers has finally been sent. Settlers will receive 75 percent before the move, with the remainder to be paid after they leave their homes. The payments were delayed because of parliamentary opposition to the withdrawal plan. Despite the signs of progress, many settlers are still opposed to the plan which security officials worry could lead to violent outbursts. The evacuation is expected to be completed in a four-week timetable starting in July. Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides extensive documentation on the disengagement plan. AP has more on the Gaza lawyers.

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