Mark Steyn has re-run an article he wrote last year defending Sharon's generally popular Gaza withdrawal policy. The gist:
...Nonetheless, Israel could have held it without much difficulty for many years to come. Instead, in the short term, Gaza will probably decay even further into a terrorist squat fought over by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. And, in the long run, its strategic value – as the most appealing location from which to launch the more ambitious Islamist rocketry – will likely turn it into a latterday Taliban Afghanistan: jihad central masquerading as a political jurisdiction.
So why would Israel enable such a move?...He knows the government of the Palestinian Authority is not a “partner for peace”, merely a sewer of corruption whose only political opposition is even more deranged and violent. And he knows the international community only have one response to Israeli concessions and that’s to demand more, even as they’re still flaying Israel for having the impertinence to withdraw from Gaza “unilaterally”.
But, with the benefit of hindsight, maybe that was the point - that Sharon has come to understand, as Bush did after September 11th, that the glorification of “stability” invariably favours the bad guys. Under cover of “stability”, the situation always deteriorates. The world’s embrace of the Palestinian “cause” is now almost complete: Blow up a nightclub in Bali full of Aussie tourists and Scandinavian backpackers and within ten minutes someone will have identified the “root cause” as the lack of a Palestinian state.
This then is the great gamble of the Gaza withdrawal: the best way to demonstrate that the Palestinians are undeserving of a state is to force one upon them. It’s a dangerous move, but in a tough neighborhood there aren’t any other kinds.
Steyn also cites this excellent Belmont Club post - Arik Sharon, by all accounts extremely unlikely to retain any political role, would like to know how his gamble turned out.