|11th Prime Minister of Israel|
7 March 2001 – 14 April 2006*
|Preceded by||Ehud Barak|
|Succeeded by||Ehud Olmert|
|Minister of Foreign Affairs|
13 October 1998 – 6 June 1999
|Prime Minister||Benjamin Netanyahu|
|Preceded by||David Levy|
|Succeeded by||David Levy|
|Minister of Energy and Water Resources|
8 July 1996 – 6 July 1999
|Prime Minister||Benjamin Netanyahu|
|Preceded by||Yitzhak Levy|
|Succeeded by||Eli Suissa|
|Minister of Housing and Construction|
11 June 1990 – 13 July 1992
|Prime Minister||Yitzhak Shamir|
|Preceded by||David Levy|
|Succeeded by||Binyamin Ben-Eliezer|
|Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour|
13 September 1984 – 20 February 1990
|Prime Minister||Shimon Peres (1984–86)
Yitzhak Shamir (1986–90)
|Preceded by||Gideon Patt|
|Succeeded by||Moshe Nissim|
|Minister of Defense|
5 August 1981 – 14 February 1983
|Prime Minister||Menachem Begin|
|Preceded by||Menachem Begin|
|Succeeded by||Menachem Begin|
26 February 1928 (age 85)
Kfar Malal, British Mandate of Palestine
|Political party||Kadima (formerly Likud andShlomtzion)|
|Spouse(s)||Margalit Sharon (d. 1962);
Lily Sharon (d. 2000)
|Alma mater||Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Tel Aviv University
Israel Defense Forces
|Years of service||1948–74|
|Battles/wars||Israeli Independence War
Yom Kippur War
|*Ehud Olmert serving as Acting Prime Minister from 4 January 2006|
Ariel Sharon (Hebrew: אריאל שרון, Arabic: أرئيل شارون, Ariʼēl Sharōn, also known by hisdiminutive Arik, אַריק, born Ariel Scheinermann, אריאל שיינרמן; 26 February 1928) is an Israeli statesman and retired general, who served as Israel’s 11th Prime Minister.
Sharon was a commander in the Israeli Army from its inception in 1948. As a paratrooper and then an officer, he participated prominently in the 1948 War of Independence, becoming a platoon commander in the Alexandroni Brigade and taking part in many battles, including Operation Ben Nun Alef. He was an instrumental figure in the creation ofUnit 101, and the Retribution operations, as well as in the 1956 Suez War, the Six-Day War of 1967, the War of Attrition, and the Yom-Kippur War of 1973. As Minister of Defense, he directed the 1982 Lebanon War.
During his military career, he was considered the greatest field commander in Israel’s history, and one of the country’s greatest ever military strategists. After his assault of the Sinai in the Six-Day War and his encirclement of the Egyptian Third Army in the Yom Kippur War, the Israeli public nicknamed him “The King of Israel” and “The Lion of God”.
After retiring from the army, Sharon joined the Likud party, and served in a number of ministerial posts in Likud-led governments in 1977–92 and 1996–99. He became the leader of the Likud in 2000, and served as Israel’s Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006. In 1983 theKahan Commission, established by the Israeli Government, found that as Minister of Defense during the 1982 Lebanon War Sharon bore “personal responsibility” for themassacre by Lebanese militias of Palestinian civilians in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, for his having disregarded the prospect of acts of bloodshed by the Phalangists against the population of the refugee camps, and not having prevented their entry. The Kahan Commission recommended Sharon’s removal as Defense Minister, and Sharon did resign after initially refusing to do so. In the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, Sharon championed construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, as Prime Minister, in 2004–05 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 Kadima party. He has been in a permanent vegetative state since suffering a stroke on 4 January 2006. His stroke occurred a few months before he had been expected to win a new election and was widely interpreted as planning on “clearing Israel out of most of the West Bank”, in a series of unilateral withdrawals.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Military career
- 3 Early political career
- 4 Prime minister
- 5 Health
- 6 Recognition
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
Sharon was born on 26 February 1928 in Kfar Malal, an agricultural moshav, then in theBritish Mandate of Palestine, to a family of Belarusian Jews—Shmuel Scheinerman (1896–1956) of Brest-Litovsk and Dvora Scheinerman (1900–1988) of Mogilev. His parents met at theTbilisi State University, Georgia, where Sharon’s father was studying agronomy and his mother had just started her fourth year of medical studies. As Bolshevik forces advanced towards independent Georgia, his parents emigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine, fleeing the pogroms associated with theRussian Civil War.
The family arrived in the Third Aliyah and settled in a Kfar Malal, a socialist, secularcommunity where, despite being Mapai supporters, they were known to be contrarians against the prevailing community consensus:
The Scheinermans’ eventual ostracism … followed the 1933 Arlozorov murder when Dvora and Shmuel refused to endorse the Labor movement’s anti-Revisionist calumny and participate in Bolshevic-style public revilement rallies, then the order of the day. Retribution was quick to come. They were expelled from the local health-fund clinic and village synagogue. The cooperative’s truck wouldn’t make deliveries to their farm nor collect produce.
As a young teenager, he first began to take part in the armed night-patrols of his moshav. In 1942 at the age of 14, Sharon joined the Gadna, a paramilitary youth battalion, and later the Haganah, the underground paramilitary force and the Jewish military precursor to theIsrael Defense Forces (IDF).
Battle for Jerusalem and 1948 War of Independence
Sharon’s unit of the Haganah became engaged in serious and continuous combat from the autumn of 1947, with the onset of the Battle for Jerusalem. Without the manpower to hold the roads, his unit took to making offensive hit-and-run raids on Arab forces in the vicinity of Kfar Malal. In units of thirty men, they would hit constantly at Arab villages, bridges and bases, as well as ambush the traffic between Arab villages and bases.
Sharon wrote: “We had become skilled at finding our way in the darkest nights and gradually we built up the strength and endurance these kind of operations required. Under the stress of constant combat we drew closer to one another and began to operate not just as a military unit but almost as a family. … [W]e were in combat almost every day. Ambushes and battles followed each other until they all seemed to run together.”
For his role in a night-raid on Iraqi forces at Bir Adas, Sharon was made a platoon commander in theAlexandroni Brigade. Following the Israeli Declaration of Independence and the onset of the War of Independence, Sharon’s platoon fended off the Iraqi advance at Kalkiya. Sharon was regarded as a hardened and aggressive soldier, swiftly moving up the ranks during the war. He was shot in the groin, stomach and foot by the Jordanian Arab Legion in the First Battle of Latrun, an unsuccessful attempt to relieve the besieged Jewish community of Jerusalem. On this day, his brigade suffered 139 killed in the battle. Sharon wrote: “Not everyone in my platoon made it. … It was a horrible battle.” After recovering from the wounds received at Latrun, he resumed command of his patrol unit. On 28 December 1948, his platoon attempted to break through an Egyptian stronghold in Iraq-El-Manshia.
Sharon’s subsequent military career would be characterized by insubordination, aggression and disobedience, but also brilliance as a commander.
In September 1949, Sharon was promoted to company commander (of the Golani Brigade‘s reconnaissance unit) and in 1950 to intelligence officer for Central Command. He then took leave to begin studies in history and Middle Eastern culture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
A year and a half later, on the direct orders of the Prime Minister, Sharon returned to active service in the rank of major, as the leader of the new Unit 101, a special forces unit whose purpose was to execute reprisal operations in response to Palestinian fedayeen attacks. While operating in compact and well-trained teams, they took part in offensive guerrilla warfare. The unit consisted of 50 men, mostly former paratroopers and Unit 30 personnel. They were armed with non-standard weapons and tasked with carrying out special reprisals across the state’s borders—mainly establishing small unit maneuvers, activation and insertion tactics. Training included actively seeking enemy engagements across Israel’s borders.
The new recruits began a harsh regimen of day and night training, their orientation and navigation exercises often taking them across the border; encounters with enemy patrols or village watchmen were regarded as the best preparation for the missions that lay ahead. Some commanders, such as Baum and Sharon, deliberately sought firefights.
In retaliation for fedayeen attacks on Israel, Unit 101 undertook a series of raids against Jordan, which then held the West Bank. The raids also helped bolster Israeli morale and convince Arab states that the fledgling nation was capable of long range military action. The unit was known for raids against Arab civilians and military targets, most notably the widely condemnedQibya massacre in the fall of 1953, in which 69 Palestinian civilians, some of them children, were killed when Sharon’s troops dynamited buildings there in a reprisal for a fedayeen attack in Yehud. Sharon said that he had “thought the houses were empty” and that the unit had checked all houses before detonating the explosives.
Sharon, top second from left, with members of Unit 101 after Operation Egged (November 1955). Standing l to r: Lt. Meir Har-Zion, Maj. Arik Sharon, Lt. Gen Moshe Dayan, Capt. Dani Matt, Lt. Moshe Efron, Maj. Gen Asaf Simchoni; On ground, l to r: Capt.Aharon Davidi, Lt. Ya’akov Ya’akov, Capt.Raful Eitan
A few months after its founding, Unit 101 was merged with the 890 Paratroopers Battalion to create the Paratroopers Brigade, of which Sharon would later become commander. It continued its raids into Arab territory, culminating with the attack on the Qalqilyah police station in the autumn of 1956.
In the lead up to the Suez War, amongst the missions Sharon took part in included:
- Operation Shoshana
- Operation Black Arrow
- Operation Elkayam
- Operation Egged
- Operation Olive Leaves
- Operation Volcano
- Operation Gulliver (מבצע גוליבר)
- Operation Lulav (מבצע לולב)
From 1958 to 1962, Sharon served as commander of an infantry brigade and studied law atTel Aviv University.
Incidents, such as those involving Meir Har-Zion, along with many others, contributed to the tension between the Prime Minister Moshe Sharett, who often opposed Sharon’s raids, and Moshe Dayan, who had become increasingly ambiguous towards Sharon. Later in the year, Sharon was investigated and tried by the Military Police for disciplining one of his subordinates. However, the charges were dismissed before the onset of the Suez War.
1956 Suez War
In the 1956 Suez War (the British “Operation Musketeer“), Sharon commanded Unit 202 (the Paratroopers Brigade), and was responsible for taking ground east of the Sinai’s Mitla Pass and eventually taking the pass itself. Having successfully carried out the first part of his mission (joining a battalion parachuted near Mitla with the rest of the brigade moving on ground), Sharon’s unit was deployed near the pass. Neither reconnaissance aircraft nor scouts reported enemy forces inside the Mitla Pass. Sharon, whose forces were initially heading east, away from the pass, reported to his superiors that he was increasingly concerned with the possibility of an enemy thrust through the pass, which could attack his brigade from the flank or the rear.
Sharon asked for permission to attack the pass several times, but his requests were denied, though he was allowed to check its status so that if the pass was empty, he could receive permission to take it later. Sharon sent a small scout force, which was met with heavy fire and became bogged down due to vehicle malfunction in the middle of the pass. Sharon ordered the rest of his troops to attack in order to aid their comrades.Sharon was criticized by his superiors and he was damaged by allegations several years later made by several former subordinates, who claimed that Sharon tried to provoke the Egyptiansand sent out the scouts in bad faith, ensuring that a battle would ensue.
Sharon had assaulted Themed in a dawn attack, and had stormed the town with his armor through the Themed Gap. Sharon routed the Sudanese police company, and captured the settlement. On his way to the Nakla, Sharon’s men came under attack from Egyptian MIG-15s. On the 30th, Sharon linked up with Eytan near Nakla. Dayan had no more plans for further advances beyond the passes, but Sharon nonetheless decided to attack the Egyptian positions at Jebel Heitan. Sharon sent his lightly armed paratroopers against dug-in Egyptians supported by aircraft, tanks and heavy artillery. Sharon’s actions were in response to reports of the arrival of the 1st and 2nd Brigades of the 4th Egyptian Armored Division in the area, which Sharon believed would annihilate his forces if he did not seize the high ground. Sharon sent two infantry companies, a mortar battery and some AMX-13 tanks under the command of Mordechai Gur into the Heitan Defile on the afternoon of 31 October 1956. The Egyptian forces occupied strong defensive positions and brought down heavy anti-tank, mortar and machine gun fire on the IDF force. Gur’s men were forced to retreat into the “Saucer”, where they were surrounded and came under heavy fire. Hearing of this, Sharon sent in another task force while Gur’s men used the cover of night to scale the walls of the Heitan Defile. During the ensuing action, the Egyptians were defeated and forced to retreat. A total of 260 Egyptian and 38 Israeli soldiers were killed during the battle at Mitla. Sharon’s actions were surrounded in controversy due to these deaths, which many within the IDF criticized as being the result of an act of unnecessary and unauthorised aggression.
Six-Day War and Yom Kippur War
“It was a complex plan. But the elements that went into it were ones I had been developing and teaching for many years… the idea of close combat, nightfighting, surprise paratroop assault, attack from the rear, attack on a narrow front, meticulous planning, the concept of the ‘tahbouleh’, the relationship between headquarters and field command… But all the ideas had matured already; there was nothing new in them. It was simply a matter of putting all the elements together and making them work.”
The Mitla incident hindered Sharon’s military career for several years. In the meantime, he occupied the position of an infantry brigade commander and received a law degree from Tel Aviv University. However, whenYitzhak Rabin became Chief of Staff in 1964, Sharon began again to rise rapidly in the ranks, occupying the positions of Infantry School Commander and Head of Army Training Branch, eventually achieving the rank ofAluf (Major General). In the 1967 Six-Day War, Sharon commanded the most powerful armored division on theSinai front which made a breakthrough in the Kusseima-Abu-Ageila fortified area (see Battle of Abu-Ageila).
Sharon’s offensive strategy at Abu-Ageila led to international commendation by military strategists, which put Sharon at the centre of a new paradigm in operational command. Researchers at the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command studied Sharon’s operational planning, concluding that it involved a number of unique innovations. It was a simultaneous attack by a multiplicity of small forces, each with a specific aim, attacking a particular unit in a synergistic Egyptian defense network. As a result, instead of supporting and covering each other as they were designed to do, each Egyptian unit was left fighting for its own life.
At the start of the Yom Kippur War on 6 October 1973, Sharon was called back to active duty along with his assigned reservearmored division. On his farm, before he left for the front line, the Reserve Commander, Zeev Amit, said to him, “How are we going to get out of this?” Sharon replied. “You don’t know? We will cross the Suez Canal and the war will end over there.” Sharon arrived at the front, to his fourth war, in a civilian car. His forces did not engage the Egyptian Army immediately, despite his requests. Under cover of darkness Sharon’s forces moved to a point on the Suez Canalthat had been prepared before the war. Bridging equipment was thrown across the canal on 17 October. The bridgehead was between two Egyptian Armies. He then headed north towards Ismailia, intent on cutting the Egyptian second army’s supply lines, but his division was halted south of the Fresh Water Canal.
Abraham (Bren) Adan’s division passed over the bridgehead into Africa advancing to within 101 kilometers of Cairo. His division managed to encircle Suez, cutting off and encircling the Third Army. Tensions between the two generals followed Sharon’s decision, but a military tribunal later found his action was militarily effective. Sharon’s complex ground maneuver is regarded as a decisive move in the Yom Kippur War, undermining the Egyptian Second Army and encircling the Egyptian Third Army. This move was regarded by many Israelis as the turning point of the war in the Sinai front. Thus, Sharon is widely viewed as responsible for Israel’s ground victory in the Sinai in 1973. A photo of Sharon wearing a head bandage on the Suez Canal became a famous symbol of Israeli military prowess.
Sharon’s political positions were controversial and he was relieved of duty in February 1974. Sharon was widowed twice. Shortly after becoming a military instructor, he married Margalit, with whom he had a son, Gur. Margalit died in a car accident in May 1962. Their son, Gur, died in October 1967 after a friend accidentally shot him while they were playing with a rifle. After Margalit’s death, Sharon married her younger sister, Lily. They had two sons, Omri and Gilad. Lily Sharon died of cancer in 2000.
Early political career
Beginnings of political career
In the 1940s and 1950s, Sharon seemed to be personally devoted to the ideals of Mapai, the predecessor of the modern Labor Party. However, after retiring from military service, he was instrumental in establishing Likud in July 1973 by a merger of Herut, the Liberal Party and independent elements. Sharon became chairman of the campaign staff for that year’s elections, which were scheduled for November. Two and a half weeks after the start of the election campaign, the Yom Kippur War erupted and Sharon was called back to reserve service. In the elections Sharon won a seat, but a year later he resigned.
From June 1975 to March 1976, Sharon was a special aide to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He planned his return to politics for the 1977 elections; first he tried to return to the Likud and replaceMenachem Begin at the head of the party. He suggested to Simha Erlich, who headed the Liberal Party bloc in the Likud, that he was more fitting than Begin to win an election victory; he was rejected, however. He then tried to join the Labor Party and the centrist Democratic Movement for Change, but was rejected by those parties too. Only then did he form his own list, Shlomtzion, which won two Knesset seats in the subsequent elections. Immediately after the elections he merged Shlomtzion with the Likud and became Minister of Agriculture.
When Sharon joined Begin’s government he had relatively little political experience. During this period, Sharon supported the Gush Emunim settlements movement and was viewed as the patron of the settlers’ movement. He used his position to encourage the establishment of a network of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories to prevent the possibility of Palestinian Arabs‘ return of these territories. Sharon doubled the number of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and Gaza Strip during his tenure.
On his settlement policy, Sharon said while addressing a meeting of the Tzomet party: “Everybody has to move, run and grab as many (Judean) hilltops as they can to enlarge the (Jewish) settlements because everything we take now will stay ours. … Everything we don’t grab will go to them.”
After the 1981 elections, Begin rewarded Sharon for his important contribution to Likud’s narrow win, by appointing him Minister of Defense.
1982 Lebanon War and Sabra and Shatila massacre
During the 1982 Lebanon War, while Sharon was Defense Minister, the Sabra and Shatila massacre occurred between 16 September and 18. Between 800 and 3,500 Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps were killed by thePhalanges—Lebanese Maronite Christian militias. The Security Chief of the Phalange militia, Elie Hobeika, was the ground commander of the militiamen who entered the Palestinian camps and killed the Palestinians. The Phalange had been sent into the camps to clear out PLO fighters while Israeli forces surrounded the camps, blocking camp exits and providing logistical support. The killings led some to label Sharon “the Butcher of Beirut”.
An Associated Press report on 15 September 1982 stated:
Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, in a statement, tied the killing [of the Phalangist leader Gemayel] to the PLO, saying: “It symbolises the terrorist murderousness of the PLO terrorist organisations and their supporters.” Habib Chartouni, a Lebanese Christian from the Syrian Socialist National Party confessed to the murder of Gemayel, and no Palestinians were involved. Sharon had used this to instigate the entrance of the Lebanese militias into the camps.
Robert Maroun Hatem, Hobeika’s bodyguard, stated in his book From Israel to Damascus that Hobeika ordered the massacre of civilians in defiance of Israeli instructions to behave like a “dignified” army.
The investigative Kahan Commission (1982) found the Israeli Defence Forces indirectly responsible for the massacre, as the I.D.F. held the area, and that no Israeli was directly responsible for the events which occurred in the camps.
The Commission determined that the massacre at Sabra and Shatilla was carried out by a Phalangist unit, acting on its own but its entry was known to Israel and approved by Sharon. Prime Minister Begin was found responsible for not exercising greater involvement and awareness in the matter of introducing the Phalangists into the camps.
The Commission also concluded that the defense minister (Sharon) bore personal responsibility “for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge [and] not taking appropriate measures to prevent bloodshed”. It said Sharon’s negligence in protecting the civilian population of Beirut, which had come under Israeli control, amounted to a dereliction of duty of the minister. The commission recommended in early 1983 the removal of Sharon from his post as Defense minister and stated:
We have found … that the Minister of Defense [Ariel Sharon] bears personal responsibility. In our opinion, it is fitting that the Minister of Defense draw the appropriate personal conclusions arising out of the defects revealed with regard to the manner in which he discharged the duties of his office—and if necessary, that the Prime Minister consider whether he should exercise his authority … to … remove [him] from office.”
Sharon initially refused to resign as Defense Minister and Begin refused to fire him. After a grenade was thrown into a dispersing crowd of an Israeli Peace Now march, killing Emil Grunzweig and injuring 10 others, a compromise was reached: Sharon agreed to forfeit the post of Defense Minister but stayed in the cabinet as a minister without portfolio.
In its 21 February 1983 issue, Time published a story implying Sharon was directly responsible for the massacres. Sharon suedTime for libel in American and Israeli courts. Although the jury concluded that the Time story included false allegations, they found thatTime had not acted with “actual malice” and so was not guilty of libel.
On 18 June 2001 relatives of the victims of the Sabra massacre began proceedings in Belgium to have Sharon indicted on alleged war crimes charges. Elie Hobeika, the leader of the Phalange militia who carried out the massacres, was assassinated in January 2001, several months before he was scheduled to testify for a trial, that may or may not have proceeded in Belgium. In June 2002, aBrussels Appeals Court rejected the lawsuit because the law was subsequently changed to disallow such lawsuits unless a Belgian citizen is involved.
Political downturn and recovery
“I begin with the basic conviction that Jews and Arabs can live together. I have repeated that at every opportunity, not for journalists and not for popular consumption, but because I have never believed differently or thought differently, from my childhood on. … I know that we are both inhabitants of the land, and although the state is Jewish, that does not mean that Arabs should not be full citizens in every sense of the word.”
After his dismissal from the Defense Ministry post, Sharon remained in successive governments as a minister without portfolio (1983–1984), Minister for Trade and Industry(1984–1990), and Minister of Housing Construction (1990–1992). In the Knesset, he was member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense committee from (1990–1992) and Chairman of the committee overseeing Jewish immigration from the Soviet Union. During this period he was a rival to then prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, but failed in various bids to replace him as chairman of Likud. Their rivalry reached a head in February 1990, when Sharon grabbed the microphone from Shamir, who was addressing the Likud central committee, and famously exclaimed: “Who’s for wiping out terrorism?” The incident was widely viewed as an apparent coup attempt against Shamir’s leadership of the party.
In Benjamin Netanyahu‘s 1996–1999 government, Sharon was Minister of National Infrastructure (1996–98), and Foreign Minister (1998–99). Upon the election of the Barak Labor government, Sharon became leader of the Likud party.
Campaign for Prime Minister, 2000–2001
On 28 September 2000, Sharon and an escort of over 1,000 Israeli police officers visited the Temple Mount complex, site of the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, the holiest place in the world to Jews and the third holiest site in Islam. Sharon declared that the complex would remain under perpetual Israeli control. Palestinian commentators accused Sharon of purposely inflaming emotions with the event to provoke a violent response and obstruct success of delicate ongoing peace talks. On the following day, a large number of Palestinian demonstrators and an Israeli police contingent confronted each other at the site. According to the U.S. State Department, “Palestinians held large demonstrations and threw stones at police in the vicinity of the Western Wall. Police used rubber-coated metal bullets and live ammunition to disperse the demonstrators, killing 4 persons and injuring about 200.” According to the GOI, 14 policemen were injured.
Sharon’s visit, a few months before his election as Prime Minister, came after archeologists claimed that extensive building operations at the site were destroying priceless antiquities. Sharon’s supporters claim that Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian National Authorityplanned the intifada months prior to Sharon’s visit. They state that Palestinian security chief Jabril Rajoub provided assurances that if Sharon did not enter the mosques, no problems would arise. They also often quote statements by Palestinian Authority officials, particularly Imad Falouji, the P.A. Communications Minister, who admitted months after Sharon’s visit that the violence had been planned in July, far in advance of Sharon’s visit, stating the intifada “was carefully planned since the return of (Palestinian President) Yasser Arafat from Camp David negotiations rejecting the U.S. conditions”. According to the Mitchell Report,
the government of Israel asserted that the immediate catalyst for the violence was the breakdown of the Camp David negotiations on 25 July 2000 and the “widespread appreciation in the international community of Palestinian responsibility for the impasse.” In this view, Palestinian violence was planned by the PA leadership, and was aimed at “provoking and incurring Palestinian casualties as a means of regaining the diplomatic initiative.”
The Mitchell Report found that
the Sharon visit did not cause the Al-Aqsa Intifada. But it was poorly timed and the provocative effect should have been foreseen; indeed, it was foreseen by those who urged that the visit be prohibited. More significant were the events that followed: The decision of the Israeli police on 29 September to use lethal means against the Palestinian demonstrators.
In addition, the report stated,
Accordingly, we have no basis on which to conclude that there was a deliberate plan by the PA to initiate a campaign of violence at the first opportunity; or to conclude that there was a deliberate plan by the GOI to respond with lethal force.
The Or Commission, an Israeli panel of inquiry appointed to investigate the October 2000 events,
criticised the Israeli police for being unprepared for the riots and possibly using excessive force to disperse the mobs, resulting in the deaths of 12 Arab Israeli, one Jewish and one Palestinian citizens.
A survey conducted by Tel Aviv University’s Jaffe Center in May 2004 found that 80% of Jewish Israelis believed that the Israel Defense Forces had succeeded in militarily countering the Al-Aqsa Intifada.
After the collapse of Barak’s government, Sharon was elected Prime Minister in February 2001. His senior adviser was Raanan Gissin.
On September 2003, Sharon became first prime minister of Israel to visit India, he remarked India as “to be one of the most important countries in the world”. Some analysts talked of developing an axis consisting of Delhi, Washington andJerusalem.
On 20 July 2004, Sharon called on French Jews to emigrate from France to Israel immediately, in light of an increase in French anti-Semitism (94 anti-Semitic assaults reported in the first six months of 2004 compared to 47 in 2003). France has the third largest Jewish population in the world (about 600,000 people). Sharon observed that an “unfettered anti-Semitism” reigned in France. The French government responded by describing his comments as “unacceptable”, as did the French representative Jewish organization CRIF, which denied Sharon’s claim of intense anti-Semitism in French society. An Israeli spokesperson later claimed that Sharon had been misunderstood. France then postponed a visit by Sharon. Upon his visit, both Sharon and French President Jacques Chirac were described as showing a willingness to put the issue behind them.
In May 2003, Sharon endorsed the Road Map for Peace put forth by the United States,European Union, and Russia, which opened a dialogue with Mahmud Abbas, and announced his commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state in the future.
He embarked on a course of unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, while maintaining control of its coastline and airspace. Sharon’s plan was welcomed by both the Palestinian Authority and Israel’s left wing as a step towards a final peace settlement. However, it was greeted with opposition from within his own Likud party and from other right wing Israelis, on national security, military, and religious grounds.
Disengagement from Gaza
On 1 December 2004, Sharon dismissed five ministers from the Shinui party for voting against the government’s 2005 budget. In January 2005 Sharon formed a national unity government that included representatives of Likud, Labor, and Meimad and Degel HaTorah as “out-of-government” supporters without any seats in the government (United Torah Judaism parties usually reject having ministerial offices as a policy). Between 16 and 30 August 2005, Sharon controversially expelled 9,480 Jewish settlers from 21 settlements in Gaza and four settlements in the northern West Bank. Once it became clear that the evictions were definitely going ahead a group of conservative Rabbis, led by Yosef Dayan, placed an ancient curse on him known as the Pulsa diNura, calling on the Angel of Death to intervene and kill him. After Israeli soldiers bulldozed every settlement structure except for several former synagogues, Israeli soldiers formally left Gaza on 11 September 2005 and closed the border fence at Kissufim. While his decision to withdraw from Gaza sparked bitter protests from members of the Likud party and the settler movement, opinion polls showed that it was a popular move among most of the Israeli electorate with more than 80% of Israelis backing the plans. On 27 September 2005, Sharon narrowly defeated a leadership challenge by a 52–48 percent vote. The move was initiated within the central committee of the governing Likud party by Sharon’s main rival, Benjamin Netanyahu, who had left the cabinet to protest Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza. The measure was an attempt by Netanyahu to call an early primary in November 2005 to choose the party’s leader.
Founding of Kadima
On 21 November 2005, Sharon resigned as head of Likud, and dissolved parliament to form a new centrist party called Kadima (“Forward”). November polls indicated that Sharon was likely to be returned to the prime ministership. On 20 December 2005, Sharon’s longtime rival Benjamin Netanyahu was elected his successor as leader of Likud. Following Sharon’s incapacitation, Ehud Olmert replaced Sharon as Kadima’s leader, for the nearing general elections. Likud along with Labor Party were Kadima’s chief rivals in the March 2006 elections.
His stroke occurred a few months before he had been expected to win a new election and was widely interpreted as planning on “clearing Israel out of most of the West Bank”, in a series of unilateral withdrawals.
In the elections, which saw Israel’s lowest-ever voter turnout of 64% (the number usually averages on the high 70%), Kadima, headed by Olmert, received the most Knesset seats, followed by Labor. The new governing coalition installed in May 2006 included Kadima, with Olmert as Prime Minister, Labor (including Peretz as Defense Minister), the Gil (Pensioner’s) Party, the Shas religious party, andIsrael Beytenu.
Alleged fundraising irregularities and Greek island affair
During the latter part of his career Sharon was investigated for alleged involvement in a number of financial scandals, in particular, theGreek Island Affair and irregularities of fundraising during 1999 election campaign. In the Greek Island Affair, Sharon was accused of promising (during his term as Foreign Minister) to help an Israeli businessman David Appel in his development project on a Greek island in exchange for large consultancy payments to Sharon’s son Gilad. The charges were later dropped due to lack of evidence. In the 1999 election fundraising scandal, Sharon was not charged with any wrongdoing, but his son Omri, a Knesset member at the time, was charged and sentenced in 2006 to nine months in prison.
To avoid a potential conflict of interest in relation to these investigations, Sharon was not involved in the confirmation of the appointment of a new Attorney General Menahem Mazuz in 2005.
On 10 December 2005 Israeli police raided Martin Schlaff‘s apartment in Jerusalem. Another suspect in the case was Robert Nowikovsky, an Austrian involved in Russian state-owned company Gazprom‘s business activities in Europe.
According to Haaretz, “The $3 million that parachuted into Gilad and Omri Sharon’s bank account toward the end of 2002 was transferred there in the context of a consultancy contract for development of kolkhozes (collective farms) in Russia. Gilad Sharon was brought into the campaign to make the wilderness bloom in Russia by Getex, a large Russian-based exporter of seeds (peas, millet, wheat) from Eastern Europe. Getex also has ties with Israeli firms involved in exporting wheat from Ukraine, for example. The company owns farms in Eastern Europe and is considered large and prominent in its field. It has its Vienna offices in the same building as Jurimex, which was behind the $1-million guarantee to the Yisrael Beiteinu party.”
On 17 December, police announced that they had found evidence of a $3 million bribe paid to Sharon’s sons. Shortly after the announcement, Sharon suffered a stroke.
|“I love life. I love all of it, and in fact I love food.”|
|—Ariel Sharon, 1982|
Since the 1980s, Sharon had suffered from obesity, and suspected chronic high blood pressure and high cholesterol—he was reputed to be 170 cm (5 ft 7 in) tall and to weigh 115 kg (250 lb). His staff car would reportedly be stocked with snacks, vodka and caviar. Stories of Ariel Sharon’s appetite and obesity were legendary in Israel. He would often joke about his love of food and expansive girth. He was a daily consumer of cigars and luxury foods. Numerous attempts by doctors, friends and staff to impose a balanced diet on Sharon were without avail.
Stroke and incapacitation
On 18 December 2005, Sharon suffered a mild stroke heading in a convoy to Havat Shikmim, his ranch in the Negev. An analysis of hisMRI showed that Sharon was suffering from cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA), a disease that weakens the blood vessels in the brain and increases the risk of hemorrhage. He suffered specifically from a relatively unusual type called a paradoxical embolism, in which a clot from the venous circulation crosses over into the arterial circulation through a congenital hole in the heart and goes to the brain, causing a transient speech and motor disturbance. To prevent another clot from forming, Sharon was treated with enoxaparin.This treatment received criticism because anticoagulation therapy increases the risk of brain hemorrhage, particularly given his diagnosis of CAA. Although Sharon wanted to leave after just one day, he was released from the hospital after two days, at the hospital’s insistence.
He continued to take daily shots of enoxaparin, and a cardiac catheterization procedure to repair the hole in his heart was scheduled for 5 January 2006. However, on the evening before, Sharon suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage at Havat Shikmim. His family awaited the arrival of one of Sharon’s personal physicians, Shlomo Segev, from his home in Tel Aviv. Half an hour later, after Sharon collapsed again, the attending paramedic ordered emergency medical evacuation, but it took twenty minutes to get him into the ambulance. Segev arrived at the scene just as the ambulance was leaving. Instead of being taken to the nearby Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, the ambulance headed for Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem – almost an hour’s drive away.Although a staff member had suggested during the evacuation airlifting Sharon to hospital by helicopter, Segev feared that transferring him to a helicopter would worsen his condition. After a seven-hour operation that successfully stopped the bleeding in Sharon’s brain, Sharon was placed in the neurological intensive care unit and on a ventilator. He subsequently underwent an operation lasting 14 hours. Sharon remained in an induced coma to relieve intracranial pressure.
On 6 January, Sharon underwent a five-hour operation to halt bleeding in his brain, following which Sharon was returned to the neurological intensive care unit. His sons ignored doctors’ recommendations to allow their father to die in peace given the poor prognosis. On 13 January, doctors began weaning Sharon off sedatives to wake him and assess the damage to his brain, but Sharon failed to awaken after the sedatives were stopped. In January and February, Sharon underwent further medical procedures.
Replacement by Ehud Olmert
The night of Sharon’s second stroke, following consultations between Government Secretary Israel Maimon and Attorney-GeneralMenachem Mazuz, Sharon was declared “temporarily incapable of discharging his powers.” Sharon’s deputy, Ehud Olmert, the Deputy Prime Minister, was officially confirmed as Acting Prime Minister. Olmert and the Cabinet announced that legislative elections would take place on 28 March as scheduled. According to Israeli law, an acting prime minister can perform the duties of prime minister for up to 100 days after the latter had become incapacitated, after which the Israeli President must appoint a new Prime Minister. At the time of his stroke, Sharon’s Kadima enjoyed support from the general public in Israel, but this was to change dramatically in the next few years. Although Sharon was was not a candidate due to his health, the Kadima party founded by Sharon won plurality in theKnesset elections on 28 March 2006.
On 6 April, President of Israel Moshe Katsav formally asked Ehud Olmert, as Prime Minister-designate, to form a government within 28 days. On 11 April 2006, the Israeli Cabinet deemed that Sharon was incapacitated. Although Sharon’s replacement was to be named within 100 days of his becoming incapacitated, the replacement deadline was extended due to Passover. A provision was made that, should Sharon’s condition improve between 11 and 14 April, the declaration would not take effect. Therefore, Olmert succeeded Sharon officially on 14 April.
On 28 May 2006, Sharon was transferred from Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital to a long-term care unit at Sheba Medical Center, a large civilian and military hospital in Tel HaShomer near Ramat Gan. Medical experts indicated that his cognitive abilities were destroyed by the stroke, and that he was in a persistent vegetative state with slim chances of regaining consciousness. On 12 November 2010 Ariel Sharon was moved from the long-term care facility to his home in Havat Shikmim. His condition again worsened from late 2013, and Sharon suffered from renal failure on 1 January 2014.
A$250 million park named for him is under construction outside Tel Aviv. When complete, the Ariel Sharon Park will be three times the size of New York’s Central Park and introduce many new ecological technologies. A 50,000-seat amphitheatre is also planned as a national concert venue.
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- Jump up^ Sharon Loses Libel Suit; Time Cleared of Malice by Brooke W. Kroeger.
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- Jump up^ Mitchell G. Bard. “Myths & Facts Online: The Palestinian Uprisings”. Jewish Virtual Library.
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- Jump up^ Mark Willacy, Israeli PM Sharon moves left side, ABC News, 10 January 2006.
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- Jump up^ Ariel Sharon Park transforms ‘eyesore’ into ‘paradise’Jerusalem Post By SHARON UDASIN, 16 May 2011
- Jump up^ “Former wasteland, future ecological wonderland Ariel Sharon Park to be bigger than NYC’s Central Park”, by Achshav Staff 20 July 2011
- Ben Shaul, Moshe (editor); Generals of Israel, Tel-Aviv: Hadar Publishing House, Ltd., 1968.
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- Ariel Sharon, with David Chanoff; Warrior: The Autobiography of Ariel Sharon, Simon & Schuster, 2001, ISBN 0-671-60555-0.
- Gilad Sharon, (translated by Mitch Ginsburg); Sharon: The Life of a Leader, HarperCollins Publishers, 2011, ISBN 978-0-06-172150-2.
- Nir Hefez, Gadi Bloom, (translated by Mitch Ginsburg); Ariel Sharon: A Life, Random House, October 2006, 512 pages, ISBN 1-4000-6587-9.
- Freddy Eytan, (translated by Robert Davies); Ariel Sharon: A Life in Times of Turmoil, translation of Sharon: le bras de fer, Studio 8 Books and Music, 2006, ISBN 1-55207-092-1.
- Abraham Rabinovich; The Yom Kippur War: The Epic Encounter That Transformed the Middle East, 2005, ISBN 978-0-8052-1124-5.
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- Varble, Derek (2003). The Suez Crisis 1956. London: Osprey. ISBN 9781841764184.
- Tzvi T. Avisar; Sharon: Five years forward, Publisher House, March 2011, 259 pages, Official website, ISBN 978-965-91748-0-5.
|Find more about Ariel Sharon at Wikipedia’ssister projects|
|Definitions and translations from Wiktionary|
|Media from Commons|
|Quotations from Wikiquote|
|Source texts from Wikisource|
|Textbooks from Wikibooks|
|Learning resources from Wikiversity|
- Ariel Sharon’s Biography — Detailed account of his military and political career
- Ariel Sharon
- Ariel Sharon: Return to the Temple Mount
- The Sabra and Shatila Massacres (16–18 September 1982)
- Timeline of key events in Sharon’s life
- Ariel Sharon Profile on YnetNews
- Biography of Ariel Sharon at CNN.com
- Phonecall — An authentic recording of Ariel Sharon talking to a soldier positioned at one of the Suez Channel bunkers at the beginning of the Yom Kippur War.
- Sharon’s speech on 30th anniversary of Yom Kippur War
- Ariel Sharon — The Eleventh Prime Minister of Israel
- Booknotes interview with Sharon on Warrior: An Autobiography, 17 September 1989.
- Ariel Sharon’s Confusing Legacy — slideshow by Der Spiegel
- Works by or about Ariel Sharon in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Ariel Sharon on the Knesset website
|Prime Minister of Israel
|Party political offices|
|Chairman of Likud
|Chairman of Kadima