Disengagement Timeline

Nov. 13, 2003 ? Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, close confidant of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, tells Haaretz in an interview that "the government of Israel is going to have to address the demographic issue with the utmost seriousness and resolve. This issue above all others will dictate the solution that we must adopt. In the absence of a negotiated agreement ... we need to implement a unilateral alternative."

December 16, 2003 ? At the Herzliya Conference, Sharon announces his "disengagement plan," which he says will include ?the redeployment of IDF forces along new security lines and a change in the deployment of settlements ... In the framework of a future agreement, Israel will not remain in all the places where it is today."

February 3, 2004 ? In an interview with Haaretz commentator Yoel Marcus, Sharon says he plans to remove all settlements in the Gaza Strip and three in the northern West Bank.

March 28, 2004 ? Knesset votes down bill on holding a national referendum on the disengagement plan.

April 14, 2004 ? President George W. Bush and Sharon exchange letters. In his letter, Bush recognizes the "new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers ... It is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949." Sharon sees this as U.S. recognition of his demand to hold on to major settlement blocks in the West Bank in any final status agreement.

May 2, 2004 ? Despite leading in the opinion polls weeks before the Likud referendum on the disengagement, Sharon is humiliated when party members vote against his plan by 60 to 40 percent. He declares he will forge ahead with the pullout.

June 8, 2004 ? Minister of Housing Effi Eitam and and deputy minister Yitzhak Levy, both of the National Religious Party, quit the government in protest over the disengagement.

August 2004 ? The Disengagement Administration (Sela) is set up. Yonatan Bassi, a member of a religious kibbutz, is appointed to head it, sparking an uproar in the national religious camp.

November 8, 2004 ? National Religious Party decides to leave the government.

December 1, 2004 ? Centrist Shinui party leaves the government in protest over budgetary funding to the ultra-Orthodox.

Early December, 2004 ? Settlers in Gaza provoke a public storm with a campaign to persuade Israelis to wear an orange Star of David, thus associating their cause with the yellow patch which the Nazis forced Jews to wear. Orange ? the color of the flag of the Gush Katif Regional Council ? is the color adopted by the anti-pullout camp.

December 27, 2004 ? Residents of the Gaza settlement of Pe?at Sadeh become first settlers to agree to be relocated.

January 2005 ? Sharon forms unity government with the Labor Party.

January 9, 2005 ? Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is elected chairman of the Palestinian Authority.

February 8, 2005 ? Sharon and Abbas declare an end to hostilities at summit in Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

February 17, 2005 ? Knesset approves evacuation-compensation law by 59-40.

March 28, 2005 ? Knesset rejects a bill proposing a national referendum on the disengagement plan by 72 to 39. (Likud central committee supports referendum; Netanyahu threatens to resign.)

June 25, 2005 ? Pullout opponents adopt tactic of blocking traffic on roads. Several dozen protesters set tires alight across the Ayalon Highway near Tel Aviv.

June 26, 2005 ? IDF Corporal Avi Bieber refuses orders to remove settlers who are disrupting the demolition of abandoned homes in Gush Katif. He is sentenced to 56 days in military jail.

July 19, 2005 ? Pullout foes accused of planting dummy bomb in Jerusalem central bus station.

July 19-21, 2005 ? Tens of thousands of settlers and anti-pullout supporters rally in Kfar Maimon. Some 20,000 soldiers and policemen block them from marching on Gush Katif.

August 2-3, 2005 ? Thousands of anti-pullout protesters gather in Sderot and Ofakim. Police and the army block them from marching on Gaza.

August 4, 2005 ? Eden Natan Zada, a 19-year-old soldier who went AWOL in protest over the disengagement plan, opens fire on a bus in Shfaram, killing four Israeli Arabs. He is beaten to death by a mob that storms the bus.

August 7, 2005 ? Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resigns in protest over the disengagement plan, charging it will lead to the creation of an "Islamic terror base" in Gaza.

August 15, 2005 ? IDF begins handing out letters to settlers telling them they have to evacuate their homes.

August 17, 2005 ? Army begins evacuation of settler homes in Gaza and the northern West Bank.