Lieberman Tells Russia He Wants to Expel Israeli Arabs

Transport Minister Avigdor Lieberman has presented Russian officials with his plan to separate Jews from Arabs, which involves exiling Israeli Arabs deemed disloyal to the state. Lieberman described the Plan for the Separation of Nations as an alternative to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan, which calls for Israel to evacuate from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.

"It would be right if the Quartet, including Russia, were to support my plan out of a deep understanding that only this way - and not via baseless plans - can it actually be possible to reach an end to the conflict and cancel the reasons leading up to it," Lieberman said after the weekend meeting. The chairman of the rightist National Union Party and an immigrant from the former Soviet Union met Alexander Galkin, Russian President Vladimir Putin's personal representative in the Quartet for Mideast peace, and Russian ambassador to Israel Gennady Tarasov.

The plan is based on the idea of separating the populations and territories of Jews and Arabs, including Israeli Arabs. According to the plan, only those Israeli Arabs who feel a connection with the State of Israel and are completely loyal to it would be allowed to remain.

Sharon yesterday condemned Lieberman's statements on transferring Israeli Arabs to the territories. "We regard [Israeli Arabs] as part of the State of Israel," he said.

Several ministers considered Sharon's statement as getting ready to dismiss Lieberman and Benny Elon, a fellow National Union minister. Sharon warned the cabinet yesterday that he was willing to change the makeup of the coalition to pass the revised disengagement plan.