Biography of Ariel Sharon (1928-2014)

Israeli, leading politician of the nationalist Likud party and its spin-off, Kadima, which reached the position of Prime Minister of the country after the elections of February 6, 2001 in which defeated a large majority of votes to his opponent, the labour Ehud Barak.

He was born in moshav (agricultural cooperative) of Kfar Maalal on February 26, 1928 and died in Tel Aviv, Israel, on January 11, 2014. He began his long military career at the age of fourteen when he entered the ranks of the Haganah organization to fight against the British colonial army. He was an instructor of the Hebrew police in 1947 and when exploded the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948, he first participated as head of a military column infantry and, later, as Commander of the Special Unit 101, famous for the operations of retaliation in the neighbouring Arab States. In all armed conflicts further - campaign of Sinai (1949), the six day war (1967), war of the Yom Kippur (1973) - Sharon held positions of high military responsibility.

He left the army in order to defend their nationalist ideological positions from the political pulpit and in December 1973 he was elected Deputy for the Likud, the Conservative Jewish party. The following year became the Prime Minister's Security Advisor Yitzhak Rabin. Seated in the Standing Committee of the Chamber (knesset) in Jerusalem, his political ascension led him to deal with different ministerial portfolios in successive Governments. He was responsible for agriculture in 1977, between 1977 and 1983 he held the Ministry of defence, he took the portfolio of industry and commerce from 1984 to 1990, of construction and housing from 1990 to 1992, in 1996 accepted the Ministry of national infrastructures, and between 1998 and 1999 was responsible for outdoor in Netanyahu'sGovernment. With the fall of the Conservative Government in the May 1999 elections and the resignation of Netanyahu as leader of Likud, Sharon was appointed interim Chairman of the party and confirmed in the post in September.

In his long way to political routes, the Likud "hawk" starred in two of the most tragic episodes in the history of Israel. In 1982, when Sharon was the Ministry of defence, Lebanese Christian troops supported by the israeli army raided the Palestinian Sabra and Chatila in Beirut refugee camps and killed more than one thousand civilians as retaliation to the PLO guerrilla activities. The Kahan Commission, which in 1983 was in charge of the investigation of the killings said the culpability of Sharon, who had to abandon his ministerial portfolio. The second sadly historic performance of the leader of the Likud involves you directly in the regrowth of the Intifada in the last days of September 2000. After talks at Camp David between Barak and Arafat, which opened for the first time the possibility to divide the Holy City of Jerusalem, Sharon, guarded by more than 2,000 soldiers, he decided to visit the Esplanade of the mosques, holy place of Islam, claim the site in the name of Judaism. The provocation had an immediate response by Palestinians that erupted in a new revolt which claimed more than 400 dead in the first months of confrontation.

Suspended the process of Arab-Israeli peace and with continuous episodes of violence in the country, the Foundation of the Labour Government, which had already lost parliamentary support, began to crumble. The Likud demanded the call for early elections and presented to Sharon as an official candidate to unseat Barak's power. But the unexpected return of former Prime Minister Netanyahu to the political frontline, following the abandonment that starred in 1999 after his resounding electoral failure against the Labour Party, complicated during the last days of the year 2000 the options of Sharon to the Government Headquarters. A large sector of the Likud supported unreservedly to Netanyahu that, in order to again become leader of the conservative positions of the country, even proclaiming his candidacy. The presumption of Netanyahu dissolve Parliament until holding elections to Prime Minister was not effective, and ultimately opted to withdraw from the political struggle and support the official choice of Sharon.

Solved internal disputes within the party, polls predicted for the Likud leader one extended victory in the election date of February 6, 2001. The forecasts were met and Sharon got the backing of more than 63% of the votes, compared to low 37% of his opponent, Ehud Barak. After his electoral triumph, he invited labour to form a national unity Government and urged the Palestinian people to abandon the path of violence to resume the negotiation process. However, he expressed his immovable intention of keeping Jerusalem as the indivisible capital of Israel Jews, leaving without effect the promise of its predecessor to negotiate with the Palestinians the possibility of sharing control of the city. Sharon stated that it would initiate a new project of peace with a new dynamic of negotiation, what it meant to stand out from the agreements reached between Arafat and Barak and start from scratch. The own outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Barak, officially announced that the proposals made at the meeting in Taba (January 2001) could be considered prescribed and not committed to the new elected Chief Executive. The immediate response of the Palestinian national authority was required were respected the verbal pacts reached with the Labor Government and not turn back in the negotiating process. The victory of the 'Falcon' was received with pessimism in the Arab countries, who were suspicious of Sharon as a valid partner for progress in the peace process, and with suspicion in the European Union, where it was feared that the positions of the new leader of the country stop the agreements reached with the Palestinians and delayed indefinitely the stability in the area.

Palestinian radical groups understood that it was time to intensify the Intifada and only forty-eight hours after the election victory of Sharon, placed a car bomb in a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem. Days later, an israeli combat helicopter launched a missile on the car where he was a commander of the personal guard of Yasir Arafat. Since the resurgence of the Intifada, and despite the strong condemnation of the international community, the israeli army forces had initiated a policy of summary executions against leaders of the Palestinian revolt justified since the Government of the Prime Minister in office, Ehud Barak, as a legitimate response to terrorist acts of the Islamic command. Twenty-four hours after the assassination, a Palestinian bus driver threw his vehicle against a group of soldiers and Israeli civilians that awaited the arrival of public transport. Eight people were killed and Barak's Government was quick to announce strong measures of reprisal for the attack.

First unity Government

While the wave of violence raging in the streets of the occupied territories, Ariel Sharon negotiated the formation of its promised Government of national unity with labour leaders. Pacifist and leftist wing of the labour sector were radically opposed to sign a pact with the Likud and threatened to abandon the party if the Alliance. Ehud Barak not attended protests in the sectors that are critical of his political formation and reached an agreement with Sharon who pledged to accept the portfolio of defense in the new Executive. Only ten days had passed since, after his electoral defeat, the country announced its withdrawal from political life. The revolt in the labour ranks threatened to provoke a schism and the pressure on Barak forced him to announce, for second time in a fortnight, its temporary withdrawal from political life and the renunciation of the ministerial portfolio in the Cabinet of unity of the israeli right. But the abandonment of Barak did not prevent a sector of labour, now led by the Minister of Regional cooperation Shimon Peres, to insist on the need to integrate into the political project of the leader of the Likud, and in a tumultuous meeting held on 26 February 2001, the Central Committee of the Party approved the labour participation in the unitary Government of Sharon. The triumph of the 'pactist' initiative piloted by Peres became the israeli political veteran in the new your party. Finally, eight labour ministers were integrated into the Government of Ariel Sharon. Peres took the portfolio of foreign, Benjamin Ben Eliezer was appointed Minister of defence and the Druze Salah Tarifi became the first Arab Minister (without portfolio) in the history of Israel (would resign a year later, on 27 January 2002, victim of sexual blackmail and accusations of obstruction of Justice and bribery to get residence in Israel of a Palestinian friend).

In its objective of setting up one of the Governments broader political history of the country, to ensure parliamentary support to its new Executive, that Ariel Sharon got that a number of ultra-Orthodox nationalist secular and religious organizations on its platform of National Alliance is also integrated. In return, it had to deliver some ministries to organizations of the extreme right (infrastructure, tourism).

Ariel Sharon was awarded Israel's new Prime Minister on March 7, 2001, with the support of 74 of the 120 members of Congress. In the investiture ceremony, the new President presented in Parliament his Government of national unity and reached the commitment to put an end to the Palestinian uprising. But the worst forecasts were met and the Arab-Israeli conflict escalated in the first two months of its mandate and increased violence. The repression of the Intifada intensified a decisive and disappeared the options to move forward in the peace process. Two events of special relevance, which occurred with just a few hours apart, left clear the policy of the new Government in relation to the crisis in the area.

In the early morning of April 15, the israeli army forces launched an attack against Syrian troops in Lebanon. A year earlier, the Government of Ehud Barak had ordered the withdrawal of the israeli army in the South of the Lebanon in compliance with the agreements signed by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and, since 1982, Israeli troops not attacked Syrian targets in Lebanon. But the new ultranationalist Executive wanted to make it clear that its coming to power meant "a change in the rules of the game" and did not hesitate to respond to the attack by Hezbollah that killed an israeli soldier, with a barrage against Syrian positions in Lebanon. Arab countries harshly condemned the attack and the Syrian Government warned that you reserved the right to respond to the provocations of Sharon.

Just a few hours later, Israeli troops occupied an area of the Gaza Strip, in retaliation for the release of five shells of mortar from the Palestinian territory, and announced her intention to remain there indefinitely until the cessation of violence. For the first time since the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993, the israeli army occupied an area under control of the Palestinian Authority. American diplomacy had to intervene immediately. The US Secretary of State Colin Powell criticized the occupation and demanded the israeli government compliance with the signed agreements and the withdrawal of troops. Ariel Sharon accepted the reprimand and ordered the withdrawal of twenty-four hours later.

However, the escalation of the conflict advanced toward all-out war in which every Palestinian forces attack receives a forceful response from the israeli army. In a clear challenge to the international community and anti-war sectors of his country, which harshly criticized the disproportionate military reprisals, Sharon announced that it would use full military arsenal of its armed forces to fight the Palestinian Intifada. His threat did not hesitate to make effective and, for the first time since the outbreak of the conflict, sent F-16 warplanes to bomb Arab positions in Gaza and the West Bank. Claramentente installed in militaristic positions, the israeli President also attended the American demand to put an end to the new settlements in Palestinian territory and subordinated the cease-fire prior dismantling of the Intifada.

The first day of July, 2001, Sharon ordered a new bombardment against Syrian positions in Lebanon in retaliation to an attack by Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas against a detachment of Israeli troops. Risky affront of the "Falcon" against their neighbors to the North again to endanger the balance achieved in 2000, when the Labour Government of Barak withdrew Israeli troops from southern Lebanon.

Six months after coming to power, the uncompromising military posture adopted by Sharon and his strategy of '' targeted killings '' among the alleged leaders of the Intifada away even more effective solutions to the conflict. The tragic terrorist attacks suffered by United States on the day of the September 11, 2001, attributed to Islamic fundamentalist groups, represented a new turning point in the conflict in the Middle East. Arafat and Sharon strongly condemned the savage attacks, and seven days later agreed impose high fire. Meanwhile announced a new meeting between the israeli Foreign Minister Simon Peres and the leader of the Palestinian national authority to resume peace talks but, pressed by the ultranationalist right of its Executive, Ariel Sharon suspended the Summit at the last minute. The meeting between Arafat and Peres finally occurred on September 26 in Gaza and held in a tense climate, the meeting concluded with the commitment of the parties to maintain high fire and resume security cooperation.

The timid diplomatic approach returned to blow in October 17, 2001 when the Popular Front for the liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was assassinated in a Jerusalem hotel to israeli Tourism Minister and leader of the ultra-nationalist National Union Rehavam Zeevi. Sharon blamed the attack on Arafat's own and ordered an offensive military punishment against the majority of the autonomous cities in the West Bank.

The israeli action plan then went toward the cornering, physical and political, of Yasir Arafat. Encircled from the Christmas in his office in Ramallah and accused the israeli Government of being responsible for direct continuous attacks suicide bombings perpetrated by Islamic radicals, Arafat lived the most critical moments of his leadership at the head of the PNA. The action-reaction spiral did not stop in the subsequent months and uncontrolled violence reached a point without return in the first days of the month of March 2002. The official residence of Arafat in Ramallah was attacked by Israeli helicopters and a single day they killed 46 people, 39 of them Arabs, in different cities of occupied Palestine. New Palestinian attacks and operations of israeli retaliation in the refugee camps radicalized the positions between the harder of the two parties to the conflict, while the political and military team led by Ariel Sharon assumed the aim of annihilating the infrastructures of the PNA until the final exile of the Palestinian leader. At the end of March, Sharon launched the so-called "operation defensive", the largest military offensive of the last two decades, and the army deployed more than 100 tanks and armored vehicles in Ramallah, the temporary headquarters of the Palestinian Executive. Arafat was isolated in their shelter during 34 days of tight siege as Israeli troops took the assault (especially bloody in Jenin) refugee camps and reocupaban territories in Gaza and West Bank in order to neutralize the brains of the attacks suicide.

In a scenario of permanent violence, installed in the area, the Government of national unity suffered critical moments when the 20 May 2002 Ariel Sharon ceased fulminant form five the ultrarreligioso party Shas Ministers and five Deputy Ministers of the unity of the Torah, as a punishment for having voted in the Parliament against an urgent economic plandesigned by the Prime Minister to fund the military offensive against the Palestinians at the expense of cutting funds for other items and increase indirect taxes. The law was rejected by 47 votes against, 41 in favour, with one abstention. Dismissal provoked the immediate withdrawal of support to the 22 members of the House Government although, two days after the first vote, the plan again to undergo consultation in Parliament and was finally approved with 65 votes.

On 14 July 2002, Ariel Sharon authorized the resumption of official contacts with Palestinian leaders, provided that Arafat is kept away from the negotiating table. Two months later, and in response to a new suicide bombing of Palestinian extremism, tanks Israelis broke into the headquarters of Arafat (Mukata) in Ramallah, dynamited by the presidential compound and began a new siege of indefinite character in order to force the exile of the President of the PNA. Pressed by United Nations and American diplomacy, Sharon ordered ten days after lifting the siege.

The failure of the drive enclosure

Meanwhile, the crisis in the israeli Government, announced before the summer, materialized on October 30, 2002 with the resignation in a block of seven labour ministers in the national unity Cabinet, formed by Ariel Sharon after elections in February 2001. By submitting his resignation, the Ministers claimed discrepancies on the approval of a budget, which the Likud wanted to spend to improve the security of the settlements in Gaza and the West Bank, rather than to promote benefits of Israelis as defending the Labour Party, but after this formal pretext were hiding political reasons of greater magnitude, as the announced call for primaries in the bosom of the labour and the need for all its leaders appear before fellow detached from the covenants subscribed against nature with the conservative nationalism of the Likud.

In any case, the fall of the coalition Government did not stop Prime Minister to achieve the approval of their budgets in the Chamber, where immediately sought the support of new allies in the ranks of the ultranationalist and religious parties to form a new parliamentary majority and prevent the announcement of early elections. The first step to conquer new Government partners among conservative extremism came with the appointment as new Defense Minister Saul Mofaz, responsible for some of the most controversial operations military veteran of repression of the Intifada and fervent defender of the banishment of Arafat. The Palestinians and the Israeli pacifist sectors welcomed the appointment of the new head of Defense with fear and augured a more than expected resurgence of the Intifada.

On the other hand, the Sharon drive enclosure failure coincided in time with a new internal battle at the heart of the Likud to conquer leadership of the party. Polls predicted a clear victory for former Prime Minister Netanyahu over the head of the Executive in the exercise in the inminetes primaries and Ariel Sharon devised an ambitious political maneuver to end internecine rivalries of power and, at the same time, to ensure the victory of the party in the face of future elections, planned for October 2003. He asked Netanyahu to withdraw his candidacy to the leadership of the Executive and, in return, offered him the portfolio of outdoor in the new cabinet as well as the second placed on the electoral lists of the party for the next elections with a commitment, accomplished half of the legislature, giving the Government Headquarters. Former Prime Minister accepted the offer but demanded, in return, to secure a new parliamentary majority and a solid executive with the call for early elections; aspect this that Sharon remained unchanged, at least for the moment, a clear opposition stance.

Prime Minister had the support of the extreme right (Union national-Israel Beituni) to overcome a motion of censure against his policy supported the pacifist party Meretz-driven economic and social by the secular right-wing Shinui and Arab formations and Labour MEPs in the Parliament, but, however, negotiations with the radical conservatives to form a Government failed. To enter the Executive the National Union leaders demanded the israeli leader declared officially buried the Oslo accords; circumstances unacceptable because he had immediately unleashed a direct confrontation with Washington. Frustrated their plans and politicking, and really regret, on 5 November 2002 Ariel Sharon announced the announcement of elections within a maximum period of three months. Netanyahu, for his part, was thus fulfilled his request for electoral advancement and agreed to put under the command of Sharon, owner of outdoor, in the provisional Government.

On 28 November 2002, Ariel Sharon achieved a landslide victory over Netanyahu in Likud primaries even though the day was overshadowed by a wave of bombings against Israel inside and outside the borders of the country. The brigades of the martyrs of Al Aqsa claimed responsibility for the killing of six militants of israeli nationalist party when they went to vote in Galilee, hours after a car bomb packed with explosives exploded in front of an israeli hotel in Mombasa (Kenya) and killed fifteen people will be charged. Almost simultaneously, a plane, which had departed from the African airport with 261 passengers on board and destination to Tel Aviv, was attacked with two missiles that failed to reach the device. Some hypotheses ventured the possibility that double attack in Kenya was the work of Islamic extremists associated with the terrorist network of Al-Qaeda.

Developed elections were finally held on 28 January 2003 and met forecasts which ventured a landslide victory for the conservative candidate despite the fact that, in the weeks before, the Prime Minister had been punctuated by some scandals of corruption, bribery and vote-buying in which, presumably, were involved leaders of his political formation and even some of their children. In any case, and despite the high rate of abstention (32%), Sharon and the Likud were strengthened general election at the time that their historical rivals, the Labour Party, suffered the biggest electoral setback in its history. Also hopes to resume the path of peace suffered a setback when, at the end of February, the Prime Minister announced a Pact to form a Government with the religious national party (PNR), spokesman for settlers, the Shinui secular training and the right-wing National Union; three political forces which had already expressed its support for the expansion of the settlements programme and its refusal to consider any reference to the future establishment of a Palestinian State in his Executive agenda. On 27 February 2003, the israeli Parliament approved the new Cabinet, with the support of 68 of the 120 seats in the Chamber.

A serious illness prevented him from concluding its mandate. In a coma since January 4, 2006 he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, the israeli Cabinet decreed his incapacitation on April 14, when, as established in the law, 100 days of hospitalization were met. Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister in functions and new leader of Kadima, the winning party in the recent legislative elections, then received definitive powers at the head of the Executive.