Does Ariel Sharon deserve a Nobel Prize? An Italian parliament member seems to think so.
In an interview with an Italian news website over the weekend, center-right parliamentarian Giuseppe Caldarola proposed that Sharon be given the Nobel Prize for advancing the disengagement plan.
"The Israeli prime minister took a bold decision that speeds up the peace process, "Caldarola said in the interview."It will be a good thing for the international community and international organizations if they appreciate and encourage it."
The Italian politician said Israel is going through a very difficult period at this time and added the pain of the settler is "a serious thing, which should be respected."
"It will be a mistake not to treat the prime minister's actions as a deed that requires special recognition, such as a Nobel Prize," Caldarola said.
Chance for a genuine peace?
When asked about his views on the disengagement plan, the parliamentarian characterized it as a plan of historic significance, and added "only with the passage of time will we be able to appraise its importance."
"We are talking about a unilateral peace step, that if the other side responds to, could finally bring a chance for genuine peace," he said. "A statesman who is capable of taking such a significant, such a painful move for his country, a statesman with such character, should be recognized."
Caldarola also praised Sharon for realizing "the gesture of peace is the most important gesture in an attempt to change the situation in the Middle East."
Caldarola's colleague, Piero Fassino, also praised "Sharon's brave decision. Caldarola in turn lauded Fassino as "a longtime friend of Israel and defender of the Palestinians."
World leaders congratulate Sharon
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last week to express his appreciation for carrying out the disengagement plan.
Berlusconi also conveyed his admiration for the prime minister and appreciation for taking such a brave step, and said his nation and political establishment would stand behind Israel and its residents.
Italy's warm wishes are just one of several supportive messages Sharon's office in Jerusalem has received over the past few days.
King Mohammed VI of Morocco sent Sharon a letter last week in which he too praised the prime minister for his decision to withdraw from Gaza.
“I would like to commend you for your prudence, long-range view and genuine commitment to reach - via negotiations - a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East." he said. "I salute your government for its determination to overcome all domestic obstacles and difficulties."
South African President Thabo Mbeki also congratulated Sharon by sending the prime minister an official letter.
"We salute your courage and assure you of our support as you dismantle the Jewish settlements in Gaza and the West Bank, and thus make an unprecedented contribution towards the just solution of the protracted and deadly Israel-Palestine conflict," he said.
In addition, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised "the courage and determination of the Israeli government in formulating and implementing the disengagement process from its inception," and expressed his hope that, "this step of yours will lead to the opening of a new chapter in the region."
British Prime Minister Tony Blair also sent Sharon his support and encouragement.
"I greatly admire the courage with which you have developed and implemented this policy. I believe you are right to see disengagement as an historic opportunity to pursue a better future for Israelis and Palestinians," he said in an official letter to the prime minister.
"I look forward to working with you to help achieve this, and to continue working together towards a just and lasting peace, free from the scourge of terrorism," he added.