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Sharon Considered Mid-East War to Distract From Corruption Probe

Middle East Newsline | January 10 2005

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was said to have discussed a proposal to launch a war in the Middle East in an effort to divert attention from an investigation into allegations of bribery and corruption.

A former member of Sharon's government said the prime minister met his aides in 2003 and discussed a strategy to foil a police probe into bribery and corruption, an investigation which also involved his sons. Former Deputy Education Minister Zvi Hendel said the war option was discussed by Sharon and his aides as a means to divert attention from the probe as well as persuade Israelis against any change in leadership.

Hendel resigned from the government in June 2004 after he opposed Sharon's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank. He said the prime minister convened such aides as Dov Weissglass, then chief of staff; Eyal Arad, Sharon's strategic adviser, and Sharon's son, Gilead, to discuss a police recommendation for an indictment.

"You have to think of a big move, otherwise we are in trouble," Hendel quoted Weissglass as saying during the meeting that took place at Sharon's ranch.