Independent UK (Link) (August 15, 2005)
Today, 15 August, is the much-anticipated day that Ariel Sharon set for the withdrawal of Israel from Gaza. It is a day that a great many people around the world predicted would never come - and which many Israelis believed should never come. Yet this day has arrived and, so far at least, the transfer of power has been accomplished with mercifully less violence and anguish than had been widely feared.
Tributes should be paid where they are due. First to the Israeli prime minister. In December 2003, when he made the improbable announcement that he intended to hand control of Gaza to the Palestinians, Mr Sharon received little credit for his decision. At worst, he was accused of a cynical propaganda ploy; at best he was chided for promising something he could not deliver.
He pursued the withdrawal from Gaza with the same dogged single-mindedness that he has applied in the past to other less noble endeavours. In the process, he lost a part of his ruling coalition; more recently he lost his senior Cabinet minister and potential Likud rival, Benjamin Netanyahu. Yet he persisted, soliciting support from the Knesset and Israeli public opinion when his own cabinet faltered. To have stayed in power and kept his promise is a considerable political feat.