Monday 20 November 2017

Ariel Sharon - A pragmatic soldier willing to cede land for peace

An Israeli woman holds a newspaper with a picture of Ariel Sharon as she waits to pay her last respects to Ariel Sharon outside the Knesset
An Israeli woman holds a newspaper with a picture of Ariel Sharon as she waits to pay her last respects to Ariel Sharon outside the Knesset
A woman cries as former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon lies in state at Knesset Plaza in Jerusalem, Israel.

Con Coughlin

Today's elaborate state funeral for Ariel Sharon -- a distinguished soldier and statesman who rarely shied away from controversy -- will provide a timely opportunity for Israel's current leaders to reflect on his legacy.

As the current generation of Israeli politicians, such as Avigdor Lieberman, the hawkish foreign minister, considers the options offered by John Kerry, the US secretary of state, for a comprehensive peace plan with the Palestinians, they would do well to remember Sharon's ability to make courageous decisions, even if it meant provoking outrage among his traditional right-wing supporters.

For many, particularly his critics, it is Sharon's military exploits he will be remembered for. Today's funeral procession is scheduled to make a brief stop at Latrun, where, during the 1948 Arab--Israeli War, Sharon fought heroically in a battle in which two-thirds of his platoon were killed or injured.

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