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Daily Israel Report

Sharon on Record: Sinai Precedent Was a Mistake

Prime Minister Sharon is on record as saying that the evacuation of the Jewish towns in Sinai was a mistake in that they led to talk of evacuation of other towns in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Golan.
First Publish: 6/28/2005, 9:32 AM / Last Update: 6/28/2005, 11:25 AM

Eleven years ago, on the 12th anniversary of Israel's pullout from the Sinai and the expulsion of the Jewish residents there, Arutz-7 interviewed Ariel Sharon - the man who is most closely associated with that evacuation. He said that in light of the developments since then - which included at the time only the "consideration" of dismantling Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza - "it was a grave mistake to dismantle the Jewish communities in Sinai."

The then-Knesset Member also explained why a withdrawal from Gaza, Samaria or Judea would be totally unacceptable.

Excerpts from the interview with Ariel Sharon in 1994:

Arutz-7: "MK Sharon, some of the public remembers you - possibly to your consternation - as the man who evacuated Yamit [the lone city among the Jewish communities in Sinai]. Can you take us back to this day 12 years ago? Where were you, what did you do?"

Sharon: "First of all, I would like to note that it was very hard to leave Sinai, an area in which we fought during the Six Day War, the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War, and an area whose landscapes we came to know and love, and of course an area that gave Israel great strategic depth. It was especially painful to evacuate the communities and their residents. This was very painful. We made great efforts with the Egyptians to retain these areas, but it was impossible to do this and at the same time to make peace with them; we tried many other avenues, including an exchange of territory, but these did not succeed. On the one hand it was very sad, but it also aroused not a small amount of jealousy to see how the Egyptians related to their land as a sacred value..."

A-7: "Your formulation at the time was, 'Peace in exchange for territory" - something we are hearing now as well [in the framework of the then-six-month-old Oslo agreement, to which Sharon and the Likud strongly objected - ed. note]."

Sharon: "I think it is very hard to compare that which occurred in Sinai, or what we could have done then, with what we face now. Sinai was a land far from our population centers, and we were able to reach an agreement that an area 200 kilometers wide would remain demilitarized forever. In addition, we signed an agreement with a sovereign country that controls its territory - and not with a terrorist organization that cannot and does not want to control terror organizations, nor even its own internal factions that continue to employ terrorism... In addition, Egypt had no other territorial demands [other than what we gave them], and this is different than the present situation."

It is noteworthy that each of the four points Sharon made in comparing the Sinai agreement with the Oslo Accords work to the detriment of the Disengagement/Expulsion plan he is now pushing forward with full force:
* Gaza is very close to Israeli population centers.
* No agreement on demilitarization has been reached.
* No agreement has been signed with a sovereign country; in fact, no agreement is to be signed at all!
* The entity that is to take control of the area still has major territorial demands upon Israel.

Sharon repeated, in the 1994 interview, his firm stance that Israel must not withdraw from the Golan, Judea, Samaria or Gaza, adding, "Every leaving of a Jewish community is a most difficult thing." He then said,

"I would also like to note now and emphasize again, in light of the government's attempt to use the precedent of Sinai as a precedent for what it wants to do now in Judea and Samaria regarding the dismantling of Jewish communities - [this] shows that it was a grave mistake to make this decision [in Sinai] about the dismantling of Jewish communities, because we see what this leads to... In my opinion, in light of what has developed, it was very hard there [in the negotiations in 1982 with Egypt], but no one ever thought that an Israeli government would arise that would use the precedent of Sinai, in totally different circumstances, to justify the dismantling of Jewish communities in the Golan or Judea/Samaria or Gaza. In light of this, I must say that we made a mistake in this area [Sharon emphasized this clearly - ed.], if this is what it has led to. Of course, if there would have been a different government today, it would not have made similar decisions."