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Shamir 'Dangerous, Cruel,' Sharon Says : Israel: 'I will never forgive (him) for putting this nation to sleep,' resigned minister says of premier. He admits his own mistakes in Lebanon camps massacre.

February 17, 1990|From Reuters

JERUSALEM — Hard-line Israeli politician Ariel Sharon--who organized the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and admitted his mistake in allowing Christians to slaughter Palestinians in refugee camps--has called Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir "dangerous."

In an interview with the daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth published Friday, the 61-year-old architect of Israel's 1982 Lebanon invasion admitted that his misjudgment led to the slaughter of Palestinians by Christians in Lebanon's Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps. Israeli troops had surrounded the camps at the time.

"Yitzhak Shamir is a dangerous man. I will never forgive Yitzhak Shamir for putting this nation to sleep," Sharon said in the interview published four days after he announced his resignation as trade minister.

"Yitzhak Shamir is definitely a cruel man," said Sharon, who has vowed to launch a campaign against a government proposal for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations after he formally resigns at a weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday.

The harsh adjectives to describe Shamir, 74, contrasted with Sharon's earlier pledge to focus on issues rather than personalities.

Claiming victory over Shamir at a chaotic meeting last Monday of their rightist Likud Party, Sharon told the newspaper: "I still believe I will be prime minister of Israel."

Sharon admitted his misjudgment in the Lebanon war while defending his criticism of what he called Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin's failure to quash a 26-month-old Palestinian uprising in the occupied territories.

An Israeli judicial inquiry in 1983 found Sharon, then defense minister, indirectly responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of Palestinian men, women and children by Christian militiamen at the two Beirut area refugee camps surrounded by Israeli troops.

The inquiry forced him to resign the Defense Ministry.

"So I paid the heaviest price for not figuring the Christians would slaughter the Muslims. That was my indirect responsibility. But Rabin must pay for his direct responsibility for this big failure," Sharon told the newspaper.

To support his accusation that Shamir is cruel, Sharon cited the case of Jonathan Pollard, an American jailed for life by the United States for stealing U.S. secrets for Israel.

"Jonathan Pollard might have been saved from life imprisonment in the United States," Sharon said.

"Pollard performed a great service to Israel, and I thought something must be done to rescue him. But in a meeting of a group of ministers, Shamir said, without batting an eyelid, 'You need to know how to sacrifice the man for the greater goal.' "

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