The Zionist Federation of Australia mourns the passing of Ariel Sharon one of the last remaining founding fathers of the state of Israel, a man who made a major contribution to the state of Israel as a soldier, politician and Prime Minister.
Born in 1928 the former Prime Minister’s history in Israel began prior to the establishment of the state. Joining the Haganah at the age of 14 his past was intertwined with the founding of Israel’s independence.
Former PM, Ariel Sharon, was an exceptional soldier who dedicated his life to protecting Israel and its citizens. He founded and led the “101” special commando unit which carried out retaliatory operation against terrorist groups as well as serving as a commander in the 1948 War of Independence and the 1967 Six Day War. During the 1973 Yom Kippur War Sharon led the crossing of the Suez Canal which brought about victory in the war and subsequent peace with Egypt.
Sharon’s stellar military career culminated in his appointment as Defence Minister in 1981, serving in this position during the Lebanon War.
Widely acknowledged for his political pragmatism the former PM was renowned for his capacity to make bold decisions to ensure Israel’s security. Yet his military experience did not preclude a commitment to pursuing peace. In 1998 Ariel Sharon was appointed Foreign Minister and headed the permanent status negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. As Foreign Minister he oversaw and advanced many projects to create dialogue and cooperation between Israel and the Arab states. Most notably Sharon spearheaded the Flagship Water Project to find a lasting solution to the region’s water crisis and a foundation to peaceful co-existence between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians.
In February 2001 Ariel Sharon was elected Prime Minister, reaffirming the Israeli government’s determination to achieve peace with the Palestinians. He maintained a strong relationship with former President Bush and his administration and in May 2003 Sharon’s government accepted the US road map for a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
The former Prime Minister’s political adaptability was most evident in June 2004 when he approved the Disengagement Plan from the Gaza Strip, which was executed the following year, in order to end Israeli rule over the inhabitants of Gaza.
Former Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, was one of Israel’s most influential and important leaders. He dedicated his life to the state of Israel and will forever be remembered as a brilliant soldier and pragmatic politician.