- - Monday, January 20, 2014

“Man of conflict: Sharon is admired for his unwavering defense of Israel” (Web, Jan. 11) observes that detractors blame former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for the failure of peace efforts under then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak because of Mr. Sharon’s “provocative visit to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount in September 2000” and the violence that “reignited in the wake of the visit.” That narrative has been discredited.

First, it was Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat who destroyed peace efforts in July 2000 by rejecting every Israeli and American peace proposal during talks at Camp David. If Arafat had wanted a Palestinian state born in peace, it was his for the price of a handshake. Second, the subsequent Palestinian war of terrorism against Israeli civilians, euphemistically called the “second intifada,” was planned by Arafat in advance. The Beirut-based Daily Star reported on March 3, 2001, that Arafat’s communications minister, Imad Faluji, had publicly acknowledged that the second intifada “‘had been planned since Chairman Arafat’s return from Camp David, when he turned the tables in the face of the former U.S. president (Bill Clinton) and rejected’” Mr. Clinton’s proposal for a Palestinian state.

More recently, Arafat’s widow, Suha Arafat, confirmed in an interview that aired on Dubai television on Dec. 16, 2012, that her husband “had made a decision [in advance] to launch the intifada. Immediately after the failure of the Camp David [negotiations] … he said to me: ‘You should remain in Paris.’ I asked him why, and he said, ‘Because I am going to start an intifada.’”

As for Sharon’s Temple Mount visit, it was coordinated in advance between Mr. Barak’s security minister, Shlomo Ben-Ami, and Palestinian security chief Jabril Rajoub. It initially passed without incident, despite the killing by Palestinian terrorists of 19-year-old Israeli David Biri the day before. (Biri was the second intifada’s first casualty.) And however controversial the visit may have been, it certainly did not justify years of Palestinian terrorists deliberately bombing Israeli children in schools, buses, discos, malls, pizzerias and ice cream parlors, killing more than 1,000 Israeli civilians.

STEPHEN A. SILVER

San Francisco