What they did not agree on
The big debate between Sharon and Weizman broke out when the latter was made defense minister and it focused on the settlement issue. It's a debate that goes on to this very day, yet it was Sharon who crossed the line when he decided to disengage from Gush Katif and evacuate settlements in northern Samaria.
Among all the praise showered on the late Ezer Weizman, it is important to remember the major argument he had with Ariel Sharon. In his eulogy to Weizman in Or Akiva, Sharon mentioned, without explication, that there were disagreements between the two men.
There were small disputes like the one after the War of Attrition when Weizman said Israel lost that war and Sharon, rightfully, said Israel had won. In the Yom Kippur War, Weizman proposed to then chief of staff David ("Dado") Elazar to direct the progress of the forces beyond the Suez Canal toward Cairo, while Sharon demanded besieging the Egyptian Second Army. Dado rejected both proposals, and the efforts were focused on the Third Army. Weizman was not thinking about conquering Cairo but about an artillery threat to it, thus continuing the line he had taken during the War of Attrition, when he was the most forthright spokesman among government ministers demanding bombing deep inside Egypt, near Cairo.
When Sharon's forces crossed the canal in the Yom Kippur War, I was witness to a meeting between Sharon and Weizman, who had helicoptered in with the chief of staff to Sharon's headquarters. On the way back, the pilot accidentally flew over the Second Army and the chopper was hit by ground fire. There was concern that the helicopter might crash during an emergency landing. I was the only person not wearing an emergency belt, and I will always remember how Weizman made me sit on his lap so he could strap us both in with his seat's belt.
But the big debate between the two broke out when Weizman was made defense minister and it focused on the settlement issue. It's a debate that goes on to this very day, yet it was Sharon who crossed the line when he decided to disengage from Gush Katif and evacuate settlements in northern Samaria. Sharon certainly knew that Weizman had been vehemently opposed to Sharon's party, Shlomzion, joining the Likud. Menachem Begin rejected Weizman's opposition.
The first outbreak of the dispute was when Sharon asked during the negotiations with Egypt that Israel be allowed to keep a line from El Arish to Ras Muhammad, along which he wanted to plant 35 settlements. Apparently, Dayan had winked to Sharon to raise the issue but Weizman vehemently demanded that all of Sinai be evacuated as part of the peace agreement with Egypt, and won. Sharon's demands and the towers he put up in Sinai made Sadat insist on a total evacuation of Yamit.
A similar dispute arose between the two at the end of the 1970s about the settlements in the West Bank. As agriculture minister, Sharon headed the ministerial committee on settlement, and he drafted a "Sharon map" of Jewish settlement in the territory. Weizman, then defense minister, proposed his own map, with a much smaller area designated for settlements, based on a few settlement blocs and prepared by the national security unit headed by Maj. Gen. Avraham Tamir. One of the disputes was over where to put Elon Moreh. Sharon and the settlers wanted it on Mt. Eival, not far from where the settlement of Bracha went up. Weizman was opposed. A similar debate broke out over the placement of Shiloh.
Sharon did not cease his activity on the ground, and even sent tractors to prepare the ground, while the Defense Ministry, which was legally responsible for the territory, prevented the tractors from proceeding. Weizman eventually lost that argument because he quit as defense minister. At first Begin filled the position, until Sharon was appointed. The rest is known. During the negotiations for Palestinian autonomy Sharon demanded that Tamir not show the Egyptians the settlement map prepared by Weizman, but the one he, Sharon, had prepared. Tamir ignored the order, but the person who determined what happened on the ground was Sharon. And all of us, including Sharon, have been eating the "fruits" of his victory ever since.
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