Israeli army chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon said Thursday that the army preparations for the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the removal of four small West bank settlements are in an advanced stage.

‘We are in a very advanced stage of planning and carrying out the disengagement plan; we are waiting for the political decision regarding the timing of implementation.’ Ya’alon told Israel radio.

Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is attempting to accelerate the implementation of the disengagement plan due to the growing opposition by settlers and their supporters.

Earlier this week, Sharon ‘s security Cabinet approved the payment of large cash advances to settlers who are welling to leave voluntarily.

Ya’alon expressed concerns over repeated threats against army officers by the opponents of disengagement.

Sharon backed by the U.S. government by-passed efforts to implement the road map peace plan and moved forwards with a unilateral disengagement plan, claiming that there existed no partner for peace talks on the Palestinian side.

The disengagement plan calls for the redeployment of Israeli forces to the borders of the Gaza Strip and the evacuation of its 21 settlements. In addition, it calls for the expansion of major West Bank settlement blocks together with evacuating four northern West bank small settlements. Both steps are conditioned with the completion of the construction of the West Bank separation wall.

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