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Israeli PM Disagrees with Comments About Israel's Arabs


Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he disagrees with comments by his new Cabinet minister that Israel's Arab citizens should be separated from the Jewish majority.

Mr. Olmert said Sunday he supports equal rights for Israel's Arab citizens.

Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israeli Arabs should be separated from the Jewish majority using the model of Cyprus, an ethnically-divided island.

In an interview with Britain's Sunday Telegraph newspaper, the ultranationalist politician described Israel's Arab minority as a "problem".

He said the best way to keep Israel a Jewish state is to separate from the Arabs in the same way that Cyprus is divided between ethnic Greeks and Turks.

Lieberman says Israel should give Israeli Arab villages to the Palestinians and incorporate Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Some 20% of Israel's citizens are Arabs.

Lieberman was sworn in Monday as a deputy prime minister responsible for strategic threats facing Israel.

The former opposition member has stirred controversy in Israel for remarks that critics say are anti-Arab.

Lieberman heads the Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home) party, which is popular with immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Some information for this report provided by AP.

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