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Saturday, 6 October, 2001, 01:24 GMT 02:24 UK
Analysis: Sharon's appeasement warning
Ariel Sharon
Sharon warned against sacrificing Israel
James Reynolds

The United States and many countries in the Middle East are now reflecting on the significance of a speech made on Thursday night by Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

In his speech, following the death of three Israelis in an attack in northern Israel, Mr Sharon compared Israel's situation to that of pre-World War II Czechoslovakia.

Do not repeat the dreadful mistake of 1938 when Europe sacrificed Czechoslovakia

Ariel Sharon
It was, in the words of some analysts here, an astonishing speech - a speech which has pleased right-wingers but which has surprised, even horrified, others.

In the key passage Mr Sharon said: "I call on the Western democracies, and primarily the leader of the Free World, the United States, do not repeat the dreadful mistake of 1938 when Europe sacrificed Czechoslovakia. Do not try to appease the Arabs at our expense."

"Israel will not be Czechoslovakia. Israel will fight terrorism," he added.

Clear message

Mr Sharon's message could hardly be more clear - Israel will not sit quietly on the sidelines during the international war on terror. It will respond when it is attacked.

This is a direct challenge to US policy in this region.

George Bush
Bush is trying to maintain a shaky ceasefire

Since the attacks on the United States, the Bush administration has worked hard to contain the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It has tried to make a shaky ceasefire work and it has made conciliatory approaches to many Arab states, knowing that America needs their active support in its campaign against Osama Bin Laden.

Rejecting his role

These approaches include Mr Bush's remarks earlier this week in which he talked of a vision of a Palestinian state.

In the American script of events, Ariel Sharon must keep quiet, act with restraint - even if Israel is attacked - and not jeopardise the coalition.

But Mr Sharon does not like the role he is being asked to play, which is why he spoke as he did last night.

And we now wait to see what effect Mr Sharon's words and actions will have on US coalition-building efforts.

See also:

04 Oct 01 | Middle East
Don't sacrifice Israel, warns Sharon
02 Oct 01 | Middle East
Bush 'endorses' Palestinian state
30 Sep 01 | Middle East
Israel gives Arafat ceasefire ultimatum
20 Sep 01 | Middle East
Risks and rewards of Mid-East truce
03 Oct 01 | Middle East
Gaza violence clouds Rumsfeld mission
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