Already in the year 2000, Ariel Sharon had indicated that he would pursue a plan very similar to what became disengagement: it would be unilateral; the main settlements and areas of strategic importance would be retained; and Palestinian population centers would have greater autonomy and separation from Israel.
About the only difference is whether smaller settlements were to be dismantled. And even that may not reflect his thinking at the time, but rather what he could get away with telling people. (remember that in 2000 it was controversial even for someone on the left wing to propose dismantling settlements)
"Back in November , before Sharon knew that he would be a candidate, I asked him to outline his ideas for peace. He said that he would never divide Jerusalem. The Jordan Valley, a strip of the West Bank that protects Israel’s eastern flank, would remain under Israeli Army control, and no settlements would be dismantled. He would try to connect the Arab cities of the West Bank by roads that do not pass through Israeli-held areas. Palestinian refugees, of course, would not be allowed to return to Israel.
And when Arafat rejects this plan?
'He can accept it, reject it—I don’t care.' "
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