Djerejian statement on the death of Ariel Sharon

David Ruth

Media note: The Baker Institute has a radio and television studio available for media who want to schedule an interview with Djerejian.

Djerejian statement on the death of Ariel Sharon

HOUSTON – (Jan. 11, 2014) – The following is the statement from Edward Djerejian, founding director of Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and former U.S. ambassador to Syria and Israel, on the passing of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

“Ariel Sharon was one of Israel’s elder warrior and political leaders. Only Shimon Peres, the president of Israel, remains from that historic generation.

“Sharon’s military acumen was demonstrated in all of Israel’s major wars — the 1948 war of independence, the 1956 Suez crisis and the 1967 and 1973 Yom Kippur wars, where his military skills were exemplified in the Sinai Peninsula. As minister of defense in 1982, he gained much notoriety for his role in the invasion of southern Lebanon and the tragic massacre of Palestinian civilians under Israeli military purview by Lebanese militia at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

“He was the major architect of Israel’s settlement policy in the occupied territories and a leader of the right-wing Likud Party. When Sharon became prime minister of Israel, his strategic thinking shifted. He realized there was no sustainable military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that Israelis and the Palestinians had to separate, preferably though negotiated agreements, but failing that by selective unilateral Israeli withdrawals from the occupied territories. He made the bold decision to unilaterally withdraw Israeli troops and settlements from Gaza and small parts of the West Bank. That decision sparked serious opposition within the Likud Party, and Sharon created a center-right political party Kadima. Stricken by strokes and a coma, he was unable to pursue these policies further, and in this respect, his legacy will remain incomplete.”

Djerejian is a leading expert on the complex political, security, economic, religious and ethnic issues of the Middle East and South Asia. He served in the U.S. Foreign Service under eight presidents, from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton. Prior to his nomination by Clinton as U.S. ambassador to Israel, he was assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs in both the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations. He also led the Baker Institute’s U.S.-Syria academic and policy dialogue from 2002 to 2005.

Djerejian is also the author of the book “Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador’s Journey Through the Middle East.”

To schedule an interview with Djerejian, contact David Ruth, director of national media relations at Rice, at


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Founded in 1993, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston ranks among the top 20 university-affiliated think tanks globally and top 30 think tanks in the United States. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows and Rice University scholars. Learn more about the institute at or on the institute’s blog,

About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.