Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon passed away on January 11, 2014, never regaining consciousness after suffering a brain hemorrhage in January 2006.
"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."
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."
"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."
On Sunday, 12 January 2014, Ariel Sharon’s coffin was brought to the Knesset for the public to pay its respects.
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 was held at the Knesset. President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, family members and friends delivered eulogies. US Vice President Joe Biden and Quartet representative Tony Blair also delivered eulogies. Other senior guests included 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.
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.