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Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said yesterday that once the separation fence is completed, the government will act vigorously to expel Palestinians living illegally within Israeli Arab communities.

In an interview with Haaretz for the holiday to be published in full on Monday, Sharon said there are tens of thousands of such illegal Palestinians in the country.

"We have a difficult problem with the fulfillment of their desire to return by infiltrating Arab cities and villages in Israel," Sharon said. "Now it is a very difficult problem because of the absence of a fence. The minute the fence is closed, the activity to remove them will be much more vigorous, and their ability to return will be greatly reduced. Now, when they are found [and expelled], they come back."

He spoke in the interview about his desire to carry out the disengagement plan, and to withdraw from Gaza and four settlements in the northern West Bank. He reckons terror won't cease after the evacuation, but hopes it will diminish. Israel's war against terror will continue and indeed intensify after the withdrawal, the PM said.

Asked if Yasser Arafat and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah are targets for assassination, Sharon said, "I wouldn't suggest either of them feels immune ... Anyone who kills a Jew or harms an Israeli citizen, or sends people to kill Jews, is a marked man. Period."

Sharon said he has "full faith" in Attorney General Menachem Mazuz. Sharon said: "My hands are clean. I believe in my full and complete innocence, and believe there won't be an indictment."