Cabinet Minister Calls for
Separation of Jews and Arabs
(VOA) -- The
newest addition to the Israeli Cabinet has called for a near-total separation
in Israel and the Palestinian territories. The statement
sparked outrage, especially among Israel's Arab citizens, who accused
the hawkish minister of promoting an "apartheid" policy.
Cabinet Minister Avigdor Lieberman set off a storm by saying
that the Jewish and Arab citizens of the Holy Land
should be separated to strengthen
the Jewish majority in the State of Israel. Lieberman said that Israel should
follow the example of Cyprus, which is divided between Greeks and Turks.
told Israel Radio that the source of the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict is not territory or occupation, but rather a clash
between two peoples and two religions. He said Cyprus is a
model because there is no terror. "There is no peace," he
said, "but there is security."
views on the Arabs have made him one of the most controversial
politicians in Israel, with opponents describing him as a racist.
He became a more powerful figure a week ago, when he joined
the Cabinet and was appointed Minister of Strategic Affairs.
Ehud Olmert invited Lieberman's hawkish Yisrael Beitenu party
to prop up his fragile government, which was weakened by fierce
public criticism of its handling of the recent war in Lebanon.
of the Israeli-Arab town of Um el-Fahm, Sheikh Hashem al-Hajneh,
told Israel Radio that Lieberman's remarks are dangerous.
said the Arabs are citizens of Israel just like the Jews. "This
country is not only for the Jews and not only for the Arabs," he
said, adding that both peoples must live together.
Arab parliamentarian was more blunt, charging that Lieberman's
remarks amount to "ethnic cleansing."
says, if the Palestinians demand a country that has no Jews,
then the Arab towns in Israel should be joined to a Palestinian
my point of view ... there is no other solution," he said, "if
we want to keep Israel a Jewish, Zionist country."
Ehud Olmert told the Cabinet that Lieberman's views are his
own, and do not represent the official position of the Israeli