2001-2005 Sharon’s new approach
As the ensuing elections approached the El Aqsa Intifada increased in intensity, with almost daily suicide bombings and mortar and shooting attacks on residential areas in Jerusalem. American diplomatic missions failed in attempts to mediate and bring about a lasting ceasefire.It was in this context that Ariel Sharon overwhelmingly defeated Barak in February 2001.
Israeli forces attacked Hamas and Al Aqsa Brigade centres in Ramallah, Jenin and Bethlehem on West Bank, and Arafat was confined to the PA compound in Ramallah.
2003 The “Roadmap”.
In 2003 the “Quartet”, comprising the US, the UN, the EU and Russia, sponsored a proposal described as “A Performance-based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution the Israeli Palestinian Conflict”. Essentially the Roadmap required that the PA would proceed to “dismantle” the terrorist organisations, and that this would be followed by an Israeli settlement freeze and by negotiations for the creation of a Palestinian state.
2004 The Security Barrier
As the situation deteriorated and daily bombings resumed, the Sharon government adopted a plan for construction of a Security Barrier. The barrier consisted mainly of fences, with sections of high wall in urban areas and next to major roads. It was mainly constructed near to the 1949 armistice lines, with extensions to protect Israeli towns in the West Bank.
The construction of the fence caused hardship to many Palestinians living in its vicinity. Some brought action in the Israeli Supreme Court, which confirmed that the barrier was a temporary structure which did not define borders, and ordered changes in the route to relieve disproportionate hardship. The fence was condemned by the UN and in the International Court on the ground that it had the effect of a unilateral acquisition of territory. However it achieved its objective of greatly reducing violent attacks within Israel.
On 11 November 2004 Yasser Arafat died, and Mahmoud Abbas was elected President of the Palestinian Authority. (See Yasser Arafat for more detail.)
2005 Unilateral withdrawal by Israel from Gaza
The government of Ariel Sharon decided that in the absence any prospect of a negotiated settlement, Israel would unilaterally withdraw all Israelis from Gaza. Some 60,000 settlers were removed from their homes by Israeli police.
After the withdrawal from Gaza the firing of rockets into Israel continued, as did the smuggling of armaments.