It appears that Israel will finally be removing the settlements from the Gaza Strip. This is only in Israel's best interest. The cost to Israel to keep those settlements there is much higher than any benefits it gets. The historical ties to the Gaza Strip are nowhere near as strong as many other parts of the Holy Land.
However, I do not believe that Ariel Sharon is abandoning settlements in any way. This is clearly evidenced by Israel's move to annex more areas around Jerusalem- areas of Jewish settlement. It's a crafty move. While Israel is being praised for partially pulling out of Gaza, it takes land of significantly more value.
I have been in the Gaza Strip. The difference between the standard of living of the settlers and the refugees is stunning.
Ariel Sharon has said that Israel wants to be a democratic and Jewish state. This is difficult to do. The only way I can see for Israel to be democratic and Jewish is to establish a separate Palestinian state. Israel cannot be considered democratic when over half the population has severely limited rights; however, it cannot give the Palestinians rights without jeopardizing its status as a Jewish state.
Let me also say that I am not anti-Semitic. (The term always amuses me anyway, since Arabs are just as Semitic as Jews.) I am not happy with Israel's policies. I also am not impressed with the policies of many Muslim and Christian countries, but that doesn't make me anti-Muslim or anti-Christian. I believe that most people feel this way. Even though we hear so much about how many people hate America, I don't think regular Americans are generally hated.