Prime Minister Netanyahu: “Arik Sharon had a central role” in the building of the Israeli army’s “heritage of valor.”
Sharon, he says, “laid the foundations of the battle doctrine of the IDF, the doctrine of reprisal and initiative in the war against terrorism.”
He details Sharon’s vital battlefield roles, highlighting the 1973 war when Sharon’s skill and bravery, in recognizing the opportunity and seizing it to cross the Suez Canal and encircle the Egyptians, turned the tide of the war that had begun so disastrously for Israel.
Discussing Sharon the prime minister, Netanyahu recalls Sharon’s speech in 2001 warning the US not to sell out Israel to the Arab world in the same way as the international community sold out Czechoslovakia to the Nazis in 1938, and uses it to underline what he says is his and Sharon’s shared insistence on Israel’s right and obligation to defend itself.
The prime minister admits that he “didn’t always agree” with Sharon, his sometimes bitter rival in Likud, and Arik “didn’t always agree with me.” But when they served in each other’s governments, he says, “we worked together for Israel’s security and economy.”
Typically, Netanyahu inserts a reference to Iran, and reiterates his oft-stated declaration that Israel will not allow the Iranians to go nuclear.
“Arik was a practical man, pragmatic,” he says, and “his pragmatism was sourced in deep feeling for” Israel.
The prime minister calls Sharon one of the great shapers of Israel, whose memory will be inscribed in the annals of his people forever.