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October 1998 
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S H A R O N   A N D   R A B I N

MER - Washington - 21 Oct:

Ariel Sharon and Yitzhak Rabin -- two very different styles, personalities, and looks. But not all that different actually when it comes to their real behind-the-scenes policies and goals. It has been kept pretty quiet -- since it suits everyone's political interests to do so -- but when Rabin was Prime Minister he met weekly privately with Sharon and even offered him a Cabinet position in 1994 (but not the one Sharon wanted).

Rabin eventually, and quite reluctantly, decided to follow one course -- grudgingly shaking Arafat's hand and drawing him into the limelight in order to create a Palestinian client regime to sign away Palestinian rights and control Palestinian population centers. The overall goal, however, remained the same - "to break their bones"...and their will. While Sharon chose to continue the previous course -- one Rabin had championed for decades -- of denying the PLO and even symbols of Palestinian nationalism legitimacy.

Each of the former Generals also proved to be brilliant political tacticians. It's just that they were playing to different wings within Israeli politics, each manuevering for power from different ends of the Israeli political spectrum, each with different constituencies, but each with a life-long devotion to defeating and controlling the Palestinians in order to promote ongoing Zionist expansion.

More details have now emerged about Sharon's unprecedented snub of Arafat as the following Reuter's story illustrates. Never before in history has a major international negotiation been conducted in this way. It should never have been allowed. Arafat, if he had any dignity left, would never have permitted it, or tolerated it -- nor would his lieutenants who have been meeting with Sharon for some time now in order to promote their own fortunes when Arafat is gone.

But even so, the Sharon calculation that when things blow up in the future his stance may still propel him into the Prime Ministership may yet prove correct.



WYE MILLS, Maryland (Reuters - 10/20) --

Israel's hawkish Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon acknowledged on Tuesday that he snubbed Palestinian President Yasser Arafat during a dinner meeting on Monday and said he would do it again if given the chance.

Sharon had dinner on Monday with President Bill Clinton, Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli cabinet ministers, but he refused to shake Arafat's hand and never even spoke to the Palestinian leader, whom he continues to call a "terrorist" and a "war criminal."

"I didn't say hello to him and I won't say hello to him, not now and not in the future," Sharon said after a meeting at Wye Mills with the Israeli Terror Victims Association.

"I didn't even look at him, but I heard from people in the room that hesaluted. I didn't shake his hand and I won't shake his hand," Sharon said of his first-ever meeting with Arafat.

One Israeli source said on Monday that Arafat saluted when Sharon, aformer general, entered the room.

But Sharon, who as defense minister led Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon and expelled Arafat from the country, said he had studiously avoided any eye contact with Arafat and didn't actually see the salute-- although he had been told about it by people in the room.

Sharon, appointed foreign minister and Netanyahu's chief negotiator earlier this month, is considered a "war criminal" himself by many Arabs for his role in the killing of hundreds of Palestinians in Lebanon's refugee camps.

He was forced to quit as defense minister in 1983 after an Israeli inquiry found him indirectly responsible for the killing of hundreds of Palestinians by Christian militiamen at the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in the Beirut area.




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