During his long career, Ariel Sharon built a lot of roads. As housing minister in the early 1990s and as national infrastructures minister in the late 1990s, Sharon played a key role in building everything from the Trans-Israel Highway to access roads to isolated communities.
Since he passed away on Saturday, his role in building Israel’s national infrastructures has been widely noted. But no mention has been made of the final and most important road that he paved.
That is the road to Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.
Sharon’s most controversial – and damaging – act was his decision in late 2003 to surrender the Gaza Strip to Palestinian terrorist organizations. The action, which involved not only withdrawing Israeli military personnel and transferring control over the international border with Egypt to the Palestinian Authority, but also forcibly removing 8,000 law-abiding, patriotic Israelis from their homes and farms and the bulldozing of their flourishing communities, was carried out in August 2005.
Just before Sharon was felled by a stroke in January 2006, he was running for reelection on a platform calling for reenacting the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in large swathes of Judea and Samaria.
Sharon decided to surrender the Gaza Strip due to massive pressure from abroad and at home. The Bush administration, which launched the so-called Middle East Quartet’s road map for peace, was quickly losing patience with Sharon, who rightly noted that the PLO had no intention of making peace with the Jewish state.
At home, the leftist-dominated media and legal system were applying heavy pressure on Sharon, intimating that due to bribery allegations, Sharon would likely end his career behind bars – and that his two sons would share his cell.
There are only three options for dealing with the dispute over Palestinian-majority territory now administered by Israel. The first option is to negotiate a settlement with the PLO . Israel adopted that policy in 1993. Sharon owed his rise to power to the abject failure of the negotiated settlement policy at Camp David in July 2000.
The PLO ’s refusal to accept statehood and peaceful coexistence, and its subsequent turn to terrorist warfare in September 2000, demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt to the vast majority of Israelis that the negotiated settlement policy was a dead end.
As US Secretary of State John Kerry’s flailing attempt to resuscitate the peace process makes clear, 14 years later, the PLO has not changed. Like Arafat before him, Mahmoud Abbas continues to reject coexistence and statehood. The PLO remains far more interested in destroying Israel than in establishing a Palestinian state.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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