Ariel Sharon February 26, 1928 – January 11, 2014 was an Israeli general and politician who served as the 11th Prime Minister of Israel from March 2001 until April 2006. Sharon was a commander in the Israeli Army from its creation in 1948. As a soldier and then an officer, he participated prominently in the 1948 Palestine war, becoming a platoon commander in the Alexandroni Brigade and taking part in many battles, including Operation Bin Nun Alef. He was an instrumental figure in the creation of Unit 101 and the reprisal operations, as well as in the 1956 Suez Crisis, the Six-Day War of 1967, the War of Attrition, and the Yom-Kippur War of 1973. Yitzhak Rabin has called Sharon “the greatest field commander in our history”. From the 1970s through to the 1990s, Sharon championed construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He became the leader of the Likud in 2000. Sharon orchestrated Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip. Facing stiff opposition to this policy within the Likud, in November 2005 he left Likud to form a new party, Kadima. He had been expected to win the next election and was widely interpreted as planning on “clearing Israel out of most of the West Bank”, in a series of unilateral withdrawals. After suffering a stroke on January 4, 2006, Sharon remained in a permanent vegetative state until his death in January 2014. On September 28, 2000, Sharon made a visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the holiest place in Judaism to emphasize Israel’s claim to sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Palestinians maintained that Sharon came with “thousands of Israeli soldiers” and defiled a Muslim holy place, when in fact, Israel’s Internal Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami permitted Sharon to visit the Temple Mount only after calling Palestinian security chief Jabril Rajoub and receiving his assurance that if Sharon did not enter the mosques, no problems would arise. Sharon did not attempt to enter any mosques and his 34 minute visit was conducted during normal hours when the area is open to tourists. Palestinian youths — eventually numbering around 1,500 — shouted slogans in an attempt to inflame the situation. Some 1,500 Israeli police were present at the scene to forestall violence. Following Sharon’s Temple Mount visit, the Palestinians, under the direction of Yasser Arafat, launched an unprecendented wave of violence and terror against Israelis, dubbed the “al-Aqsa Intifada” by the Palestinians for its association with the al-Aqsa Mosque located on the Temple Mount. Palestinian leaders claim that Sharon’s visit sparked the violence, but on November 7, 2000, an investigatory committee led by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell was established to determine the causes of the violence and to make recommendations for calming the situation. The Mitchell Report issued in April 30, 2001, concluded “the Sharon visit did not cuase the “al-Aqsa intifada.” Quotes:
• Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.
• Everybody has to move; run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements, because everything we take now will stay ours. Everything we don’t grab will go to them.
• I am for lasting peace… United, I believe, we can win the battle for peace. But it must be a different peace, one with full recognition of the rights of the Jews in their one and only land: peace with security for generations and peace with a united Jerusalem as the eternal, undivided capital of the Jewish people in the state of Israel forever.
• Israel may have the right to put others on trial, but certainly no one has the right to put the Jewish people and the State of Israel on trial.
• I believe that Jews and Arabs can live together. It’s not an easy thing but I believe we can reach an agreement. I don’t want to pretend about talking to Arabs because I meet Arabs, here and on our farm
• If we [are to] reach a situation of true peace, real peace, peace for generations, we will have to make painful concessions. Not in exchange for promises, but rather in exchange for peace.
• As one who fought in all of Israel’s wars, and learned from personal experience that without proper force, we do not have a chance of surviving in this region, which does not show mercy towards the weak, I have also learned from experience that the sword alone cannot decide this bitter dispute in this land
Author : Mark Wadler