Ariel Sharon: The 60 Minutes Interview

In 2002 then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon talked with Lesley Stahl about his handling of the bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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By Ali Rawaf

Ariel Sharon, one of Israel’s most iconic and controversial prime ministers, died today. He had been in a vegetative state since suffering a stroke in early 2006.

60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl met with Sharon on his farm in 2002 during his second year as prime minister. It was a bloody time in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and Sharon's government had just launched a massive military crackdown on the Palestinians. Stahl and Sharon's revealing and tense interview can be seen in full in the video player above. Here is a memorable excerpt:

STAHL: In the last couple of months, there have been pregnant Palestinian women, Palestinian children, innocent civilians on the other side that have also been killed in these crackdowns.  What do you feel about that?

Prime Min. SHARON: I feel very bad about that.  As a soldier for many years, I know that in battles, in wars, sometimes civilians are killed or hurt, and every casualty is a tragedy.  But you have to remember one thing: It's not a war that we started.

STAHL: Has the situation come down to a personal vendetta between you and Yasir Arafat?  There are those in Israel and--and in the United States who feel that you are so angry with him, you hate him so much, that it's--it's affecting your decision-making.

Prime Min. SHARON: The answer is no, just no.  Nothing...

STAHL: Well, what do you think of him?

Prime Min. SHARON: ...nothing--nothing personal.

STAHL: You hate him.

Prime Min. SHARON: Look, I don't--May I tell you something?  I don't hate anyone.  I don't hate anyone.  I see the victims, our victims, their victims, and I know who is responsible for that.  It's nothing to do with--there is no--any hatred.  It's beyond any hatred.  I tell you, it's not a personal.