Weisglass: 'Sharon would have beaten Hizbullah'

In testimony to Winograd, former Sharon aide says operation would never have escalated into war.

IDF in Lebanon 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
IDF in Lebanon 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Dov Weisglass, who served as prime minister Ariel Sharon's bureau chief for two years and then as his special adviser, said he believed Sharon would not have gone to war on July 12, 2006, according to the censored transcript of his testimony to the Winograd Committee, published Thursday. "The incident [in which Hizbullah kidnapped two soldiers and killed eight others] was a border incident, not substantially different from previous ones. It followed shortly after the tragedy in Gaza [in which terrorists kidnapped one soldier and killed several others], but quantity is not necessarily the same as quality. He would have asked for a few hours of quiet. At some point, I would tell him, let's call in the army. And then there would be a very serious discussion, he would be very levelheaded... he was very skeptical about the army's ability to get organized on short notice and he would tell them that the diplomatic umbrella for a border incident is getting shorter all the time." Weisglass added that Sharon was well aware of the buildup in Hizbullah power during these years. On the other hand, there were only a handful of actual clashes and it became clear that Hizbullah was playing by certain rules which it did not break. "Sharon learned to live with this situation, with the policy of highly limited responses according to some kind of modus vivendi in which neither side went too far," said Weisglass. He added that Sharon also wanted to protect northern Israel because it was flourishing. Had the Hizbullah ambush taken place during Sharon's term, "it would not have ended the way it did, because, in my opinion, [going to war] was not the solution that the situation called for," Weisglass told the committee. Weisglass also expressed skepticism about the role that the National Security Council could play in a situation like the one faced by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on July 12. Any leader needs a small coterie of highly trusted advisers against whom he can bounce off ideas and say anything he wants without fearing that his words will be leaked to the public, said Weisglass. The National Security Council belongs to one of the outer rings the prime minister will eventually consult with in devising policy, but, by the nature of things, it cannot be in on the decision-making process from the beginning.