Israel's evacuation of the Gaza Strip (search) will begin next summer and will take about 12 weeks, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (search) said Wednesday, reversing an earlier decision to speed up the pullout.

Facing considerable opposition, much of it from his own party, Sharon said several weeks ago that the evacuation of the 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank (search) would be carried out at the same time, aiming for the beginning of 2005.