Ariel Sharon’s Missed Peace Opportunity

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon passed away at the age of 85. Why do peace lovers not shed a tear for Sharon’s death and why is the Israeli leader reviled among Palestinians?

Simply, because the legacy of Ariel Sharon was not of peace but of conflict and enmity. No doubt, Sharon was one of Israel’s most controversial political and military figures. He was a loose cannon; a bull dancing alone in a glass museum.

Palestinians regard him as the most brutal, cunning and unrestrained of all the Israeli generals and politicians: A man of gruesome vision who attempted to destroy the Palestinian people. He persistently denied the Palestinians their right to self-determination and their right to function as a social, political and economic entity. His cruelty and ruthlessness resulted in widespread and indiscriminate slaughter of innocent people. He was found both directly and indirectly responsible for acts considered war crimes under international law.

The Israeli scholar Baruch Kimmerling in his book Politicide (2003) describes how Sharon was committed to politicide – defined as the attempt to eradicate any influence a religion, ethnicity, nationality, etc., has in its own political affairs – by calling and aiming for the destruction of the Palestinian political identity. Kimmerling exposes the brutality of Sharon and his military “solutions” against the Palestinians and asserts that as an inevitable consequence of his hard-line policy, the PA Legislative Council is now dominated by a faction which in its turn endorses politicide, that of the Jewish state.

Sharon’s Palestinian historic landmarks include the following:

1.         In 1953, Sharon’s 101 unit during its assault on the Palestinian village of Qibiya detonated houses with their inhabitants still inside. Members of the unit subsequently denied their commander’s claim that he ordered them to evacuate all dwellings before commencing the attack.

2.         In 1982, he instigated the infamous invasion of Lebanon and led the first Israeli assault on an Arab capital –Beirut – which resulted in many civilian casualties. When the PLO finally did leave Lebanon, Sharon refused to grant Arafat’s request that multinational forces be brought in to protect the Palestinian refugees from the Lebanese Phalangists which resulted in the Shabra and Shatila Palestinian massacres committed by his allied Christian militia who killed hundreds of Palestinians at refugee camps in west Beirut, sparking international outrage.

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3.         In 2000, he visited the Haram Sharif to provoke the Palestinians into a new uprising, the second intifada, in order to win a political victory and become Prime Minister of Israel. Consequently, more than 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis were killed.

4.         In 2005, his concept of unilateralism in Gaza Israeli withdrawal after a 38-year military occupation, gave credit to radicalism and promoting armed struggle, handing it over to radical Hamas rather than the moderate PA.

Sharon’s anti-Palestinian policies:

1.         His consistent use of a strategy of provocations against Palestinians.

2.         He was a driving force in the movement to build settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, captured areas to disrupt a future two-state solution.

3.         He designed Israel’s policy of so-called targeted killings, which targeted Palestinian individuals and resulting in many civilian casualties.

4.         He suggested the appalling proposal to make Jordan the “Palestinian state” and encouraged the idea of population ethnic cleansing transfer to Jordan.

5.         His harsh policy of unilateralism and his claim that “there is no Palestinian partner” resulted in the victory of Hamas in the January 2006 elections to the Palestinian Authority Legislative Council.

The inevitable consequence of his hard-line policy was the rise of religious extremism both in Palestine and Israel. Known as “the bulldozer” — one capable of getting things done, he could have been the peacemaker in this continuing conflict and as such would have been honored by a funeral worthy of world leaders such as the late Nelson Mandela and would have received praise in history books.

Mohammed Dajani Daoudi is founder of the Wasatia movement in Palestine, and Professor of Political Science at Al-Quds University. Read other articles by Mohammed.