It was a gutsy move by Ariel Sharon to put the removal of settlements in Gaza up for a vote in the Knesset. Thankfully, he won. It is shameful to see Sharon's opponents within the Likud using the settlers issue as one to try and undermine Sharon, and presumably try and take over the leadership. Political warhorses like Bibi Netanyahu should know better than to play politics on this issue. All sides of Israeli politics have known for years and years that this moment would come - the settlements are unsustainable, costly and politically undesirable if Israel is to demonstrate its commitment to a Palestinian state - and it does no good to make the withdrawl any harder than it has to be.
There is talk that this issue might create an existential crisis for Likud, the party which founded and vehemently supported the settlers, and now look like they will cut off the life line. The argument is that the issue will create two irreconcilable factions, pro and anti settler. This is a short-sighted piece of analysis - Sharon will have his way, the settlers will return to mainland Israel, and the pro-settlers will fall into line. Long the hero of the hard right, Sharon may have just scored himself an entry in the peace camp's "Book of People Whose Guts We No Longer Hate".