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Monday, 3 September, 2001, 14:32 GMT 15:32 UK
Sharon's strategy
Ariel Sharon
Sharon believes in security through strength
By the BBC's Jerusalem correspondent James Reynolds

Since Ariel Sharon took office, the Israeli army has carried out a series of incursions into Palestinian-controlled land.

There have always been two Sharons in a single soul

Akiva Eldar
Ha'aretz columnist
The most recent, into the village of Beit Jala outside Jerusalem, was strongly criticised by the international community.

The raids carry a message from Sharon that no area is out of bounds to Israeli forces.

It's tied to another message - for every Palestinian attack on an Israeli target, there will be an Israeli response.


These tactics do not come as a surprise to those who've watched Ariel Sharon for years.

"Sharon hasn't changed. There have always been two Sharons in a single soul," says Akiva Eldar, a columnist for the Ha'aretz newspaper.

Palestinian banner with Sharon pictured as a donkey
Palestinians have made their views plain
"There's still the old Sharon who doesn't recognise the limits of power. He thinks that you can solve all problems with military force. What you don't solve with force you'll solve with more force.

"And there is another Sharon who is a tactician, who takes into consideration, for instance, the international effect. This is the Sharon who makes some sense."

It's a Sharon who has made his positions clear - no negotiations under fire, no international monitors, and for the moment no territorial offers to the Palestinians.

Like Shakespeare's King Richard, Ariel Sharon is not in the giving vein.

Targeted killings

There's another tactic of Ariel Sharon's which has provoked strong international condemnation - that of tracking down and killing suspected militants.

We're always preparing for war but we're peace people

Yarden Vatikay
Defence spokesman
The Israelis call this a policy of active defence. The Palestinians have another word for it - assassination.

The policy carries another Sharon message, that no Palestinian is out of Israeli reach. There is a saying from the Roman Empire: "Let them hate so long as they fear."

War and peace

There's another saying from Rome: "Let he who desires peace, prepare for war." These are words his allies could apply to Israel's prime minister.

"We're always preparing for war but we're peace people," says Yarden Vatikay, a spokesman for the Israeli defence ministry. "Many of Israel's leaders are military men, but they're not militarised.

Abu Ali Mustafa, leader of the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Abu Ali Mustafa, a well-known Palestine leader, was recently killed
"These people lead to a peaceful solution: Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon. All served in the army for 30 to 40 years. But none of them thought a military solution would bring peace to Israel, not at all."

For the moment there is no peaceful solution. There is no prospect of any meaningful peace talks in the near future.

Reports from security sources say the army projects that the Palestinian uprising or intifada may last for perhaps another five years.

During this time, they say, the best Ariel Sharon can offer Israel is a state of controlled conflict.

See also:

23 Mar 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Europe and the Middle East
23 May 01 | Media reports
Sharon on Mitchell report: Excerpts
08 Feb 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Sharon: A changed man?
03 Sep 01 | Middle East
Bomb explosions rock Jerusalem
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