Ariel Sharon, 2004 News
Israeli prime minister, announced a plan to unilaterally disengage from the Gaza Strip. In February, he said he would order the evacuation of settlers and soldiers from the Gaza Strip. He later said he intended to enhance Israeli control of West Bank settlements. While President Bush and the majority of Israelis supported his plan, his Likud Party voted down his proposal in May. He became somewhat more conciliatory toward Palestinians after the death of Yasir Arafat in November. Sharon was spared a potentially devastating blow to his career when the attorney general dropped bribery charges against him in June. The charges stemmed from a failed real estate deal from the late 1990s involving a developer who sought Sharon's support for a project on a Greek island.