Below is an Arutz-7 interview with former Minister of Defense Ariel (Arik) Sharon on May 31, 1996.
Q: Sir, it appears that one of the burning questions at this time is that of Hevron. Is the Likud planning to fulfill the promise of the previous government to withdraw the IDF from Hevron?
A: First of all, the answer is surely no. Secondly, I've heard the calls of PLO leaders from Hevron, asking the government to hurry and withdraw before the formation of the next government. In my opinion, that would be most severe, for two reasons: For one, Hevron itself - it is a historical asset of the Jewish People, second in importance only to Jerusalem. And two, a withdrawal would involve great danger to human lives. I hope that the [outgoing] government will act responsibly, and not attempt, together with the PLO, to quickly withdraw now. The Likud has a plan regarding Hevron, which we have made clear: Overall responsibility for security must stay in Israeli hands, while civil administration in most of the city will be in the hands of the Palestinians who live there. In the Jewish parts of the city, from the cemeteries through Tel Romeida, and the complex of Beit Hadassah-Beit Schneersohn-Beit Romano, to the Courtyard of the Mekuballim, and the Avraham Avinu synagogue, from the eastern Kasbah and through to Kiryat Arba - all of this should be annexed to Kiryat Arba. This is the plan that will be enacted by the Likud.
Q: You were in charge of the hareidi sector in the Likud campaign. How do you plan to repay them for their strong support in the elections?
A: First of all, I would like to thank the hareidi sector that really went all out, on a scale that I simply don't remember seeing ever before. Especially to Habad, whose thousands of volunteers -
Q: I can hear the happiness in your voice.
A: I happen to have strong bonds with the hareidi sector for many years now, not on electoral or coalition considerations, but rather on my personal feelings - and their recognition of such - that I am first and foremost a Jew, and that the thing that most interests me is the Jewish People - what will happen to us in 30 years, and in 300 years, and in 3000 years.
It was a most captivating and interesting experience to meet with what are truly the nation's leading Torah scholars. It is too bad that the secular sectors do not really know the hareidim. My meetings with them were fascinating; they discussed many issues, from politics and security, to aliyah and the problems of yeridah (emigration from Israel), and even the problems of drugs and crime - all this on the background of their desire to deepen the Jewish aspect of our society. The secular think that they only come with demands; true, they have demands - Habad, for instance, demanded very forcefully that we carefully guard the integrity of the Land of Israel - they had no other demands. They would like to see more teaching of Bible, Jewish history, history of the Land of Israel, etc., in order to deepen our connection with the Land and our Jewish identity. At no point in our discussions did the subject of passing laws of "kfiya datit" (religious legislation changing the status quo) arise. The subjects centered around issues that are pertinent to the entirety of Israel.
Q: MK Sharon, thank you.
A: I would like to thank *you* at Arutz 7. As opposed to most of the Israeli media, and most of the commentators and broadcasters, who acted, unfortunately, as if they were hired by the Labor party, you stood and gave balanced coverage presenting also the nationalist point of view, and this is also part of the victory.
Q: You're making us all blush here. Thank you again.
Arutz-7 Educational Radio is a project of Bet-El Yeshiva Center Institutions.