Ariel Sharon’s Road from Settlement Building to Gaza Withdrawal
Israel’s Ariel Sharon gained early renown for his battlefield courage and notoriety for his strident opposition to Palestinian statehood. But Sharon, who served as prime minister from 2001 to 2006, was not an ideologue. When he saw pragmatic opportunities to advance Israel’s long-term interests, he pursued them, explaining his leading role in the 2005 Gaza disengagement plan. The program entailed the evacuation of some eight thousand Jewish residents in twenty-one settlements in Gaza, in addition to four settlements in the West Bank, causing much dismay among the prime minister’s former acolytes. Yet Sharon made what he considered the right choice, thereby improbably advancing Palestinian claims to statehood. Gaza disengagement would mark an endpoint in Ariel Sharon’s political evolution and endure as one of his most significant legacies.
In this episode of Decision Points, David Makovsky discusses Sharon with two figures intimately engaged in the Gaza disengagement: Stephen Hadley, who served as President George W. Bush’s national security advisor, and Dubi Weissglas, Sharon’s closest policy advisor when he was prime minister and an architect of disengagement.