AP Photo/Heidi Levine

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon turned “the two-state solution into a cloud of dust,” Palestinian political scientist and former minister of the Palestinian Authority Ali Jarbawi writes in The New York Times.

After a long military and political career of aggression (“His enmity toward Palestinians was unbridled, and he used the most violent means against them,” writes the author), Sharon unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. The conservative prime minister forcibly removed thousands of Jewish settlers and, not long after, suffered a stroke. Sharon was in a vegetative state from 2006 until his death this month, leaving his true ambitions to speculation.

Naturally the withdrawal led to conjecture of the “only Nixon could go to China” variety. In other words, Jarbawi writes, “Some say that Mr. Sharon changed after becoming prime minister in 2001, and that his transformation became obvious in 2005, when he withdrew the Israeli Army from Gaza and dismantled settlements there.” But, Jarbawi argues, “this is naïve.”

When he decided to withdraw from Gaza, Mr. Sharon was able to retain absolute Israeli control over the terrestrial, aerial and maritime borders of the Gaza Strip while relinquishing responsibility for one-third of the Palestinian population of Israel and the Occupied Territories. All he had to do was remove 8,000 settlers from the Gaza Strip.

His goal was never maintaining Israeli control over the Gaza Strip; it was to control Jerusalem and the West Bank, and eventually annex as much land as possible to Israel. And his policies and vision have borne fruit. Current Israeli demands at the negotiations suggest that the total amount of land Israel is willing to hand over to the Palestinians is not much greater than what he envisioned many years ago.

Ariel Sharon was a major obstacle to peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Palestinians suffered greatly from the violence he inflicted upon them. Despite all of this, he was unable to give Israel security, calm or peace. But he did succeed in turning the two-state solution into a cloud of dust.

Read the full opinion piece here.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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