The public is confident that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon initiated the disengagement for the good of Israel, rather than because of the criminal investigations against him, but at the same time, a large majority believe that Sharon is corrupt.

A special poll conducted for Haaretz on Sharon's fourth anniversary as prime minister finds that 48.6 percent of the public believe that Sharon initiated the disengagement based on "considerations of the good of the state," while 19 percent believe that Sharon had undergone a "real ideological change vis-a-vis the occupation." The poll was conducted by Dialog, supervised by Professor Camille Fuchs.

Only 12.2 percent of the public believe the disengagement derived from Sharon's political situation at the time he announced it, according to the poll. A similar number, 12.4 percent, think the real reason for Sharon's conceiving the disengagement plan is the intense inquiries conducted at the time against Sharon and his sons.

Meretz voters, who see themselves as guardians of the law and ethics, completely cleared Sharon of all blame in this respect. None of Meretz's voters in 2003 - 0 percent - thought the investigations are the reason for the disengagement initiative.

In contrast, 32.5 percent of the right-wing voters - the National Religious Party and the National Union - said the inquiries were the reason that Sharon initiated the Gaza pullout plan.

These unequivocal data contradict another finding of the poll: that most people think Sharon is corrupt. The people interviewed were asked to choose an attribution characterizing Sharon from a few qualities. A large majority - 62 percent - chose the quality "corruption" as characterizing the prime minister. An overwhelming majority of Meretz voters - 84 percent - also replied that Sharon is corrupt.

The conclusion is that on the one hand, Meretz's voters cannot ignore the affairs Sharon is allegedly involved in. On the other hand, when it comes to the disengagement they wholeheartedly support, they hasten to acquit him of any bad intention.