"We are leaving the Gaza Strip when it is clear to everyone that it will not be a part of the State of Israel in the future, so that we can ensure those areas which have a greater strategic importance for us."

I am pleased to celebrate with you today the laying of the cornerstone for the new settlement of Nurit [on Mount Gilboa]…

On the eve of disengagement – which was a very difficult plan and a very difficult thing – and during the difficult days of the evacuation – we repeatedly heard claims that leaving Gaza meant an end to the settlement enterprise, and some added that it meant the end of Zionism, etc. These were claims meant to imbue despair and loss of hope. These were false claims, and we will prove it – not through words, slogans or intimidation – but through action. Action and facts will prove that our leaving Gaza will ensure the future of Zionism.

We are leaving the Gaza Strip when it is clear to everyone that it will not be a part of the State of Israel in the future, so that we can ensure those areas which have a greater strategic importance for us. The significance of the Disengagement Plan is not only the evacuation of the Gaza Strip – it is also an increased effort to develop the Negev, the Galilee and greater Jerusalem.

The Government of Israel, which I head, considers developing the Negev, the Galilee and greater Jerusalem a primary national mission – and views settlement as the number-one tool for doing so. We are currently in the process of establishing five more communities. Since I intend to promote settlement for many more years, I can promise you, we will not quit.

The momentum of construction and strengthening the communities in the Galilee and the Negev is just beginning. Nurit is just the beginning. There will be many more Nurits [Hebrew for buttercup] blossoming in the Negev…