JERUSALEM – Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (search) and Lebanese guerrilla chief Hassan Nasrallah (search) could become targets for assassination, Israel's prime minister said in interviews published Friday, in his most explicit threats yet against his arch foes.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (search) also said he would withdraw from all of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank settlements of Ganim, Kadim, Homesh and Sanur, for the first time revealing the scope of his unilateral "disengagement" plan.
He hinted at a timetable, saying he hoped by this time next year Israel would be withdrawing.
Sharon also commented on the bribe-taking suspicions against him, saying: "My hands are clean." Israel's chief prosecutor has recommended the prime minister be indicted, but the final decision is up to the attorney general who is expected to rule by the end of May.
The Israeli leader has said he would let his divided Likud Party make a final decision on the withdrawal plan. Sharon is to hold a binding referendum among 200,000 party members after his return from an April 14 meeting with President Bush. Recent polls suggested that while Sharon has an advantage, the gap is too small to assure approval of the Gaza plan.
Sharon's interviews with the Maariv, Yediot Ahronot and Haaretz dailies, given ahead of next week's Passover holiday, were seen as the opening of his campaign for the withdrawal plan.
Maariv quoted him as saying Israel would withdraw from all of Gaza, only retaining control over a patrol road between southern Gaza and the Egyptian border, to prevent weapons smuggling.
"He said very clearly we are not going to stay in Gaza," Sharon's spokesman Raanan Gissin said Friday, confirming the remarks.
Sharon initially considered retaining three settlements in northern Gaza. There had also been debate over how many West Bank settlements to evacuate, and it appears Sharon settled for the smallest proposed number of four.
"We need to get out of Gaza, not to be responsible any more for what happens there," Sharon told Maariv. "I hope that by next Passover we will be in the midst of disengagement, because disengagement is good for Israel."
The prime minister told Yediot that after the withdrawal Israel would consider cutting off water and electricity to Gaza if attacks against Israelis continue.
Asked by Haaretz whether Arafat and Nasrallah are targets for assassination, Sharon said: "I wouldn't suggest that either of them feel immune ... Anyone who kills a Jew or harms an Israeli citizen, or sends people to kill Jews, is a marked man. Period."
Sharon told Maariv that Arafat "has no insurance policy." Sharon added that "today, everyone knows Arafat is the obstacle (blocking) any progress."
Palestinian officials said they are taking Sharon's threats seriously. "With these threats, Sharon is threatening the future of the peace processs in the region," said Arafat aide Nabil Abu Rdeneh.
A spokesman for Nasrallah declined comment.
Sharon's warnings were reinforced by his vice premier and confidant, Ehud Olmert.
"Those involved in killing Jews will have to defend themselves, run away, hide and invest all their energy in defending themselves, that is what the prime minister said," Olmert told Israel Radio.
Israel's army chief, Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, made veiled threats against Arafat and Nasrallah last week, after Israel assassinated Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin. However, security officials said at the time there were no plans to target the two.
Sharon has repeatedly accused Arafat of involvement in attacks on Israelis, saying he encourages and finances militants. Nasrallah said earlier this week Hezbollah will help Hamas avenge the Yassin killing.
In September, Israel's Cabinet decided that Arafat should be "removed" -- an intentionally vague statement that could mean he would be expelled or killed. However, Israel has not acted on the threat.
For more than two years, Israel has confined Arafat to his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Sharon told Haaretz that once Israel completes its West Bank separation barrier, Palestinians living illegally in Israel will be expelled. He said there are tens of thousands of them in Israeli Arab villages.
In other developments Friday, Israeli tanks entered the Rafah refugee camp on the border, looking for smuggling tunnels, the military said.
Palestinians said a 19-year-old man was killed in exchanges of fire. Hospital officials identified him as Mohammed Abed. It was not clear if he was a militant or a civilian.
The military denied that soldiers fired any shots, but said an armored vehicle was lightly damaged by a roadside bomb.
The military, meanwhile, closed an industrial park in northern Gaza, near the Erez crossing, where several thousand Palestinians are employed. The army renewed warnings about possible attacks by militants as a reasons. The Erez park has been repeatedly targeted in the past.
On Thursday, American diplomats assured Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia that Israel's plan to pull out of Gaza brings an opportunity to revive the international "road map" peace initiative, but they said future progress would depend on a Palestinian crackdown on violent groups. The team also met separately with Sharon, but no details were disclosed.
The Palestinians want assurances that the plan will be the first step toward a larger withdrawal from the West Bank, while Israel is seeking American support for limits on future Palestinian demands.