Palestinians cannot mourn for Ariel Sharon. He was and still is the symbol of their suffering. My first political memory is a rally organized to protest the raind against Qibya in 1953. It was then one of Ariel Sharon’s actions. For the Palestinians, there is a way of continuity between this action, Sabra and Shatila, and Jenin. For Palestinians, nothing is worse than Sharon. Therefore, they are hopeful today, mildly, that his replacement, whoever might be, be less tough. We are confident that such hope be a possibility for Al Fatah who leads a Hamas that feeds itself from despair.
Ariel Sharon changed eventually, but his evolution was the result of our mistakes. When Sharon wanted to eliminate Yasser Arafat’s legitimacy, we helped him out with our suicidal attacks and militarization of the Intifadah that justified the unilateralism. Sharon’s smart move was to convince the international public opinion that the greatest obstacle for peace was not the occupation, but the main problem was the Palestinian attacks. Sharon’s image has not changed for the Palestinians since he has always said that he evacuated the Gaza Strip in order to preserve the West Bank. The international public opinion did not want to see it, but the new Israeli projects, especially in Jerusalem, and the annexations that took place as a result of the continuation of the construction of the “wall” did not escape, however, from the Palestinians. The Israeli Prime Minister only made statements in favour of a Palestinian state just to please George W. Bush but never made it possible for the Palestinian state, under consideration, to have the attributes of a real state.
Arafat did not understand that Ariel Sharon would win the elections and, when he took power, it was too late; he was able to carry out the fight as he believed it was. Today, the two patriarchs are gone. It is difficult to say how Israel will evolve after this.

Le Monde (France)

Sharon a avancé grâce à nos erreurs”, by Yasser Abed Rabbo, Le Monde, January 10, 2006. Text adapted from an interview.