Israel mourns former PM Ariel Sharon

Israel mourns former PM Ariel Sharon

    Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon passed away on January 11, 2014, never regaining consciousness after suffering a brain hemorrhage in January 2006.
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    Ariel Sharon, 1928-2014 Ariel Sharon, 1928-2014 Copyright: GPO
    President Shimon Peres: 
    "My dear friend, Arik Sharon, lost his final battle today. Arik was a brave soldier and a daring leader who loved his nation and his nation loved him. He was one of Israel's great protectors and most important architects, who knew no fear and certainly never feared vision. He knew how to take difficult decisions and implement them. We all loved him and he will be greatly missed. I send my condolences to the Sharon family, may he rest in peace."​

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
    "The State of Israel bows its head on the passing of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Ariel Sharon played a central role in the struggle for the security of the State of Israel over all its years. He was, first and foremost, a courageous fighter and an outstanding general, and was among the IDF's greatest commanders. From his youth, he served the people of Israel on the battlefield. He did so as a soldier in the War of Independence, a commander in the [1956] Sinai campaign and the Six Day War, and up to his decisive role in the battle over the Suez Canal that led to the turning point in the Yom Kippur War.
    He established Unit 101 and took the initiative in the war against terrorism, which became a central pillar of the State of Israel. Upon leaving the military, he continued to work on behalf of the people of Israel both in his many government roles and as the 11th prime minister of the State of Israel. His memory will be enshrined forever in the heart of the nation."

    Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman:
    "Ariel Sharon served the State of Israel from its establishment until the last moment he could, taking part in the central events that shaped its character. Sharon will be remembered first of all as a great military commander who led many important battles, most importantly the crossing of the Suez Canal during the Yom Kippur War, as well as the battles of Israel's War of Independence and the establishment of the special 101 Unit, the Sinai Campaign, and more. 
    Sharon's political legacy has always been controversial, from his tenure as Chairman of the Ministerial Settlement Committee which strengthened Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, to the disengagement from Gaza which he initiated and implemented. He will go down in the history of Israel as one of the most noteworthy and influential figures."

  • Ariel Sharon - From soldier to statesman

    Ariel Sharon - From soldier to statesman
     Photos: GPO

    PM Netanyahu at Cabinet meeting (12 Jan 2014):

    "We take leave from Ariel Sharon, the 11th Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Arik was, first and foremost, a warrior and a commander, among the Jewish people's greatest generals in the current era and throughout its history. He was dedicated to the security of the state from his youth, as a young fighter in the War of Independence, and afterwards as a commander in the 1956 Sinai operation, in the Six Day War and in the decisive battle – during the Yom Kippur War, in leading the IDF across the Suez Canal, which, for all intents and purposes, led to a successful conclusion of a war that began under very difficult conditions for the State of Israel.

    He established Unit #101 and set two primary foundations for Israel's struggle against terrorism, initiative and retaliation, which stand to this day. He also continued this action as Defense Minister, in distancing terrorism from our northern border.

    In all of his positions – Defense Minister, Housing Minister, Infrastructures Minister and Foreign Minister – Arik contributed to the State of Israel, as he also did as Prime Minister. I think that he represents the generation of Jewish warriors that arose for our people upon the resumption of our independence.

    He was tied to the land; he knew that it had to be defended. He understood that above everything, our revival is our ability to defend ourselves by ourselves. I believe that he will be remembered in the heart of the Jewish people's forever as one of our most outstanding leaders and most daring commanders."

  • Ariel Sharon to be laid to rest

    On Sunday, 12 January 2014, Ariel Sharon's coffin will be brought to the Knesset for the public to pay its respects.

    President Peres lays a wreath at the coffin of Ariel Sharon
    President Peres lays a wreath at the coffin of Ariel Sharon
    Copyright: GPO/Amos Ben Gershom
    On Monday, 13 January 2014, at 09:30, a state memorial ceremony will be held at the Knesset. President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and family members will speak. Senior guests – including US Vice President Joe Biden, Quartet representative and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Czech Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok, Russian State Duma Chairman Sergey Naryshkin, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Spanish Home Affairs Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz, Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander and others – will also attend. (US Vice President Joe Biden and Quartet representative Tony Blair will also speak.)

    The Knesset Channel​ will broadcast the events live.

    Following the ceremony, the funeral procession will depart for the Shikmim Farm in the Negev by military convoy. The convoy will stop en route at Latrun for a special meeting of the IDF General Staff forum. At 14:00, Ariel Sharon will be laid to rest in a military funeral at the Shikmim Farm, alongside his wife Lili.

  • World leaders on Ariel Sharon: Excerpts

    US President Barack Obama: "I send our deepest condolences to the family of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and to the people of Israel on the loss of a leader who dedicated his life to the State of Israel... As Israel says goodbye to Prime Minister Sharon, we join with the Israeli people in honoring his commitment to his country.​"

    Former President George W. Bush: "I was honored to know this man of courage and call him friend. He was a warrior for the ages and a partner in seeking security for the Holy Land and a better, peaceful Middle East."

    Former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton: "Ariel Sharon gave his life to Israel - to bring it into being, to sustain and preserve it, and at the end of his long service, to create a new political party committed to both a just peace and lasting security. It was an honor to work with him, argue with him, and watch him always trying to find the right path for his beloved country."

    US Secretary of State John Kerry: "Ariel Sharon's journey was Israel’s journey. The dream of Israel was the cause of his life, and he risked it all to live that dream... I will never forget meeting with this big bear of a man when he became Prime Minister as he sought to bend the course of history toward peace... He was prepared to make tough decisions because he knew that his responsibility to his people was both to ensure their security and to give every chance to the hope that they could live in peace... In his final years as Prime Minister, he surprised many in his pursuit of peace, and today, we all recognize, as he did, that Israel must be strong to make peace, and that peace will also make Israel stronger. We honor Arik’s legacy and those of Israel’s founding generation by working to achieve that goal."

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: “Throughout a life dedicated to the State of Israel, Ariel Sharon was a hero to his people, first as a soldier and then a statesman. Prime Minister Sharon will be remembered for his political courage and determination to carry through with the painful and historic decision to withdraw Israeli settlers and troops from the Gaza Strip.”

    British Prime Minister David Cameron: "Ariel Sharon is one of the most significant figures in Israeli history and as Prime Minister he took brave and controversial decisions in pursuit of peace, before he was so tragically incapacitated. Israel has today lost an important leader."

    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper: “A renowned military leader, Mr. Sharon pursued the security of Israel with unyielding determination that was recognized by friends and foes alike. He also played a central role in the Israeli government for several years, changing the political landscape through his leadership and vision."

    French President François Hollande: "Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was a major actor in the history of his country. After a long military and political career, he chose to turn to dialogue with the Palestinians."

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised Sharon as a "Israeli patriot who has rendered great service to his country. With his courageous decision to withdraw the Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip, he took a historic step on the path to a settlement with the Palestinians and a two-state solution.”

    Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a message of condolence on the passing of the former Prime Minister of Israel, an outstanding statesman and military commander Ariel Sharon, praising Ariel Sharon’s personal qualities, his activity to uphold the interests of Israel, noting the respect he enjoyed among his compatriots and internationally.