Held responsible for the 1982 massacre of Palestinians at Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon by an Israeli commission of inquiry, Ariel Sharon might justifiably have ended his career at The Hague, convicted of war crimes.
Instead, his current health crisis is widely seen as a blow to peace prospects in the Middle East.
However, no-one seems to be clear on what exactly constituted Sharon's ultimate vision for the Israel/Palestine border and, as importantly, their ongoing economic and political relationship.
His unilateral approach to disengagement in Gaza, allied to the building of The Wall and the ongoing expansion of existing West bank settlements near Jerusalem sent very mixed signals - most probably a "take it or leave it" Pax Romana solution.
The political situation is clearly not helped by the apparent weakness of the Mahmoud Abbas leadership on the Palestinian side. It doesn’t look as if any deal Abbas might agree with Israel could be sold to his own people.
Only time will tell if Sharon’s demise is a political tragedy or the prolonged start to a new beginning. Hopefully the middle-ground in Israel will win the upcoming elections.
Sharon will make a fascinating case study for future political scientists. War criminal or peace-maker, history will have to be the judge.
One piece that amused me was a TV vox pop with members of the Israeli public: “He’s George Bush’s puppet” opined one contributor. There’s no fooling some people.
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