The Recognition of Israel and War
The al-Aqsa intifada, sparked off by Sharon's visit to Haram al-Sharif on 28 September 2000, erupted against increasingly intransigent Israeli and Palestinian positions. Following Yasser Arafat's demand for a settlement based on international legitimacy, Sharon encircled Palestinian centres with trenches and earth barricades. The international commission initiated at the Sharm el Sheikh summit to look into the reasons for al-Aqsa intifada, headed by former American senator George Mitchell who had had experience in Eire and Ulster, absolved Sharon from direct responsibility, though it did describe his tour of al-Aqsa as 'provocative'. The Mitchell report referred to excessive and lethal use of force by Israel against Palestinian demonstrators, condemned Palestinian 'terrorism' and shooting of Israeli troops and settlers from Palestinian Authority positions, and concluded that Israeli settlements were an obstacle to peace and should be frozen. The second Palestinian uprising was more extreme than the first. Fanatical suicide bombers terrorized the population in cities and towns within the borders of Israel.