Our occasional contributor, the independent scholar and blogger Thomas G. Mitchell, has written an article comparing Sharon with De Gaulle for the 972mag.com webzine. These are highlights:
Sharon was no De Gaulle
To get out of the West Bank Israel needs a politician with the energy and reputation of Sharon and the political skills of De Gaulle. Whether such a figure exists is a different story.
. . . Sharon’s political career had four major accomplishments in terms of deeds: the disastrous 1982 invasion of Lebanon, the settlements in Gaza and the West Bank, the crushing of the Al-Aksa Intifada from 2002 to 2004, and the Gaza disengagement of 2005. The Gaza disengagement, unilateral rather than negotiated, led to Hamas rule and the Palestinian duality that has let Israel off the hook from negotiating seriously with the Palestinian Authority on statehood. The settlements remain on the West Bank. Sharon settled the territories as agriculture minister while Begin and Shamir gave him political cover. And as prime minister he gave cover for a massive expansion of the settlements during his five years in office.
. . . He explicitly rejected comparisons between the French in Algeria and Israeli control of the Palestinian territories. But he was also rumored to sleep with Alistair Horne’s A Savage War of Peace, the leading English-language account of the Algerian war, by his bedside while he was prime minister.
. . . Why was the architect of the Battle of Abu Agheila in 1967 unable to design a plan to get Israel out of the territories in 2005? There . . . is no indication that Sharon wanted to withdraw from the West Bank. The Gaza disengagement was designed to allow Israel to retain the West Bank and not lose its demographic majority in the short term. . . .