The following is an extract from an interview with Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, published in the holiday edition of Yediot Aharonot on September 15. Correspondents Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer conducted the interview at the prime minister’s residence Monday evening, September 13. J.J. Goldberg translated the interview from Hebrew.
The next series of questions might be more appropriate to Yom Kippur than to Rosh Hashanah. This week, the settlers distributed a photocopy of an interview that Ariel Sharon gave to the Kfar Chabad newsletter in 1995, at the height of the right-wing campaign against the Oslo Accords and then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. We read the prime minister several passages from that interview.
“I am pleased,” Sharon said [in the 1995 interview], “that nothing will help the government or its intentions. The settlers do not intend to move from these places…. It is absolutely out of the question. This will be a very grave matter. In my opinion people will not be evacuated. The government needs to consider well where it is heading. The matter will lead to very grave consequences, to civil war.”
He accused the Rabin government of fabricating reports about planned attempts on the life of the prime minister. “The Rabin government is creating media provocations about the supposed intention to attack him. Its purposes are plainly visible. We need to see where they have drawn these things: from the Stalin regime. Where are they leading with the slanders they are spreading? To the abandonment of the settlers of Judea and Samaria? And perhaps to civil war? The dictators are at the gate.”
Rabin, he said, “is not the same man that I knew. There is no resemblance. With great sadness and with no desire to hurt him personally — Rabin has ceased in my eyes to be reliable in matters of security.”
The government and its leaders, Sharon said, “are stricken with madness.” They have lost all control. Although it is impermissible to compare the current situation to the Holocaust, I wish nonetheless to recall that before the Holocaust the Jewish leaders said: ‘There is no alternative….’ In any other country they would have put Peres and Rabin on trial.”
Sharon listened to the quotes with visible reluctance. “These are severe matters, period,” he said. “I said things that are severe and in my opinion uncalled for. Even in political life there has to be some sort of limit.”
Do you understand today that you crossed that limit, we asked.
“It seems to me that back then, I crossed the limit,” he admitted.
“First, I overstepped. Second, I think even today that the Oslo plan was dangerous. It brought Israel to one of its most perilous situations. Nonetheless, one must be wary of harsh statements.”