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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 May, 2005, 23:04 GMT 00:04 UK
Sharon booed in NY over Gaza plan
Anti-Sharon protesters in New York
Protesters wore orange clothes - the colour of Jewish settlers
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been heckled by US Jews at a New York rally to promote his Gaza pullout plan.

Several protesters in a crowd at Baruch College tried to interrupt Mr Sharon's speech, with one of them shouting: "Jews don't expel Jews."

The protesters were removed before Mr Sharon was able to continue to loud cheers from most of about 1,000 people who came to the Manhattan auditorium.

He said the pullout would be on time in mid-August and would improve security.

Mr Sharon is well aware of the influence of organised pro-Israeli Jewish groups in American politics, the BBC's Jeremy Cooke in New York reports.

Mr Sharon also knows his plans are drawing fierce criticism from his political opponents back home.

Hawkish language

"Usually I handle these things myself," Mr Sharon said, after the protesters were removed from the auditorium.

Israeli PM Ariel Sharon. Archive picture
Mr Sharon is backed by a majority of Israelis over the disengagement

"This plan will improve our security and offer a chance to start a political process with the Palestinians," he said to the overwhelmingly supportive crowd.

"It will guarantee a Jewish majority in the state of Israel."

Mr Sharon said the pullout would begin as scheduled on 16 or 17 August, despite the reported reservations of military commanders who has been urging a delay of up to six months because of security concerns.

During his further meetings in the US, Mr Sharon's message is expected to contain hawkish language, our correspondent says.

He adds that this is designed to reassure his audience that he is not going soft in his dealings with the Palestinians or rewarding the violence of the past four years.

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