Ariel Sharon attends a session at the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem, March 23, 2005.
Gil Cohen Magen / Courtesy Reuters

I was wrong about Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, when I profiled him for Foreign Affairs ("The Last of the Patriarchs," May/June 2002 issue.) I underestimated both his political survivability and his willingness to break away from the status quo. And despite following Sharon's words and deeds for a living, I missed the turning point in autumn 2003, when he unilaterally decided to withdraw Israeli forces and settlements from the Gaza strip. Coupled with his earlier decision to build a "separation barrier" in the West Bank, the move amounted to a major shift in Israel's Palestinian policy. The signs had been

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