Israeli deputy prime minister Ehud Olmert criticised Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's policy for 'disengagement' from the Palestinians on 21 December. The plan, which Olmert said could see thousands of settlers relocated from their homes in the Occupied Territories, has been drawn up by Sharon in case the internationally-sponsored peace roadmap fails. 'There will be a serious protest and I do not take it lightly,' Olmert said. 'I expect it will be very emotional and confrontational.' Sharon announced his plan on 18 December, and highlighted that it was a final option and was not meant to replace the roadmap. Sharon has faced heavy criticism from the international community for his continued talk of 'unilateral' measures to end violence in Israel, which would see the completion of the controversial security fence and increases efforts to separate Palestinians and Israelis (MEED 10:12:03
Olmert's comments came a day after Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) reaffirmed his support for the roadmap and condemned Sharon's plans for unilateral moves. 'This is a process with two partners,' he said. 'No-one can do what he wants alone. It will not be an agreement - it will escalate the violence.'