After eight years in a coma, Ariel Sharon has mercifully died.
The Herald has a good biography of his life from the Associated Press. His life and legacy are complex. He has been a war hero, but also a disgraced leader over the 1982 massacres. He ultimately became Prime Minister and turned away from his previous hardline views and did what no other Israeli PM has done – withdrawing settlements from disputed territories. He left Likud to form the centrist Kadima and it became Israel’s most popular party.
While unlikely, it is possible we may have got some sort of peace settlement if he had not had his stroke just before the elections. Israelis seem more prepared to accept a peace settlement if it is pushed by a politician who has a strong military background – I guess they are seen as acting from a position of strength, not weakness.
His legacy is mixed, and we’ll never know what may have happened if his stroke had not occurred. But I am glad he finally has his rest after eight years in a coma.