October 6, 1973
Three months after his release from the IDF and with the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, Ariel Sharon was re-called to command the Armored Reserve Division #143. After intensive defense battles he has led  the Division across  the Suez Canal coming within 101 kilometers of Cairo. in a fierce  night battle, which claimed the lives of hundreds of the Israeli soldiers, his division encircled the 3rd Egyptian Army cutting off all of their supplies routes.  The outcome of this battle has determined the fate of the war, eventually leading to the peace treaty with Egypt.



Road to Peace?

The unthinkable has happened. On September 15th, 2005 the United Nations gave the podium to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who for many years was the most hated men in the Middle East. This invitation to speak was not an accident or change of attitude by most members of UN towards Israel. Sharon just concluded the turnover of the Gaza Strip to Palestinians, an act that surprised many outside the Israel and was almost as painful to Israelis as any wars they fought over the last 55 years. 

Ariel Sharon in UNThe old warrior delivered an emotional speech in which he said that "The right of Jewish people to the Land of Israel does not mean disregarding the right of others in the land. Palestinians will always be our neighbors. We respect them and don't aspire to rule over them. They also deserve freedom and a sovereign national entity in their own country". In short, Sharon called for a Palestinian State. Sharon also  also noted that it's the Palestinian's turn to prove that they want peace:

"I call on the Palestinian leadership to show determination and leadership, and to eliminate terrorism, violence, and the culture of hatred from our relations. I am certain that it is in our power to present our peoples with a new and promising horizon, a horizon of hope."

As the members of the UN assembly cautiously applauded, the Palestinian Foreign Minister Naser Al-Kidwa sat with his arms folded. It was obvious that he was not pleased. Many Arab observers commented that Sharon's speech fell short of expectations. Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said that progress toward peace can be made only with more Israeli concessions. "The problem can be solved by ending the occupation that began in 1967" he exclaimed.  

He has got to be kidding !  What he is saying is that Palestinians have no responsibilities in this conflict. If only Israel gives back all the land there will be peace and tranquility. I would suggest to him that he re-read the history of his country and it's conflicts.

I would also suggest to him to look at the current siutation Israel is facing today on it's Northern border with Lebanon. Ehud Barak, then Prime Minister, unilaterally withdrew from Lebanon on May 24th of 2000. By doing so Israel met it's obligations under UN Security Cancel Resolution 425.  Even the UN has acknowledged  that Israel no longer holds any Lebanese land. And yet there in no peace between Israel and Lebanon. If fact Southern Lebanon is under the control of the pro-Iranian terrorist organization Hizballa, who continuously shells Israeli border towns with Katusha rockets.

Why ? Because Hezbolla put a claim to a small sliver of land called Shabba Farms, that was never a part of Lebanon. Some people in UN have whispered that maybe if only Israel turns Shabba Farms over to Hisballa the conflict will end. I hate to disappoint the anonymous well wishers but it will not lead to any kind of peace. On the contrary it will expand the appetites of the Iran and and it's lackey the Hezbolla, who openly seek the distraction of Israel.

They will find another Shabba Farms just to keep at war with Israel and here is why. If there is a peace treaty between Israel and Lebanon, Hezbolla will have to disarm. That will never happen because today Hezbolla is a major force in Lebanese politics with a number of seats in the Parlament because of it's military strength. Continued external conflict with Israel allows Hizballa to be armed to the teeth with the help of Iran and Syria.

Back to Palestinians. Does anyone really believe that militant group like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others will disarm if Israel goes back to pre-1967 borders? Just like Hezbolla in Lebanon, these groups gained their power after the years of terrorist activities. The disarmament would mean no more bombings of Israeli buses and no more pictures of shahids (suicide bombers) painted on the walls of Palestinian cities.

Today Hamas controls Gaza for the most part while the Palestinian Authority can only helplessly watch as former chief of security Mussa Arafat (Yasser Arafat's cousin) was gunned down in his own backyard when a hundred armed militants forced their way into his compound.    This is not just an internal Palestinian power struggle. It is also a war of ideologies.

While Abu Abbas and his predecessor Yasir Arafat were part of Fatah, mainly secular organization, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are the offshoots of  the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic movement, that produced the likes of Ayman al-Zawahiry the infamous sidekick of Osama bin-Ladin. They see the future of Palestine not as democratic country but rather as an Islamic State.

These organizations and their financiers will not tolerate the existence of Zionist entity in the middle of the Arab World. These are the people who introduced a cult of death to their Muslim brothers and sisters. These are the people who send young, sick and desperate men and women into Israeli cities strapped with bombs to spread death and destruction.  

They will not end this conflict even if Israel returns all the disputed territories. Besides we've been down this road before. Edud Barak offered Arafat 97% of the land taken in 1967 War in exchange for the end of the conflict only to be promptly rejected by Arafat during the Camp David II negotiations. Instead of coming back to Barak with a counteroffer, Palestinians embarked on the Second Intifada that took thousands of lives both Israelis and Palestinians.  

If there is no final status resolution between Israelis and Palestinians there will be no peace. Without the final status of internationally recognized borders, Palestinians can always find reasons to continue fighting against Israel. One of the main contentions will be the Right of Return, which even Abu Abbas is refusing to back down from. Right of Return would mean 4-5 million Palestinians currently living abroad and in the refugee camps settling in Israel proper.

That would mean the end of Israel and an almost a certain civil war.   The road to peace needs to take a different route. Palestinians need to start building a civil society where there is one rule of law for everyone. They need to build a society that is governed by their elected officials and not by the warlords and their armed gangs engaged in a turf war with each other.

In Gaza alone there are multiple contenders for the post of the local tsar. Mahmud Abbas is refusing to confront these people and is trying to achieve concessions through negotiations. The problem is that none of these groups will give up tpower peacefully. Abu Abbas must take a stand against the terrorist infrastructure and stick to it. Only by dismantling armed groups will he see his dream of a Palestinian State come to life. Peace in the Middle East is a very dangerous business.

Yitzhak Rabin paid with his life for it. Ariel Sharon by disengaging from Gaza put his life and career on the line. Abbas has a choice of dying peacefully in a French hospital like Arafat did or fight for his people's future with all means possible; because the biggest obstacle to Palestinian Statehood today is not Israel, but the Palestinians themselves.