World leaders have reacted to the death of Ariel Sharon, the former Prime Minister of Israel, and commented on his controversial legacy.
Barack Obama, President of the US, praised him for “dedicating his life to the State of Israel”.
He added: “We reaffirm our unshakable commitment to Israel's security and our appreciation for the enduring friendship between our two countries and our two peoples.
"We continue to strive for lasting peace and security for the people of Israel, including through our commitment to the goal of two states living side-by-side in peace and security."
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, paid tribute to him as "one of the most significant figures in Israeli history".
He added: "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."
Mr Sharon died in hospital on Saturday at the age of 85.
Ariel Sharon dies: Former Israeli Prime Minister's life in pictures
Ariel Sharon dies: Former Israeli Prime Minister's life in pictures
1/12 Ariel Sharon in 1956
Ariel Sharon writes a letter in the Sinai Peninsula during the 1956 war with Egypt in this handout file picture taken 30 October, 1956 and released by Israel's Defence Ministry.
2/12 Ariel Sharon in 1969
In 1969, Sharon was appointed Chief of Southern Command. He demolished thousands of homes in Gaza refugee camps to open roads for anti-terror patrols and deported hundreds of young men to Jordan and Lebanon.
3/12 Ariel Sharon in 1981
Israeli then Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Ministers Avraham Burg, Ariel Sharon and Yitzhak Shamir as they walk from their lodgings to the funeral of assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, held on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, 10 October 1981.
4/12 Ariel Sharon in 1982
Sharon planned and orchestrated Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in June 1982, extending the war’s objectives far beyond those approved by the government.
5/12 Ariel Sharon and his wife, 1982
Sharon laughs as his wife Lily stands at his side during an aerial display in an Israeli Air Force Base in this 15 July, 1982 file handout picture released by the Government Press Office.
6/12 Ariel Sharon in 1993
This picture from September 1993 shows Sharon with his sheep during a photo session on his farm in Shikmim, southern Israel.
7/12 Ariel Sharon in 1998
Sharon walks past Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat during the Middle East peace summit at the Wye River Conference centre 21 October, 1998.
8/12 Ariel Sharon in 1999
Sharon, centre, in 1999 as leader of the opposition Likud party, unfurls maps of Israeli settlements in the West Bank with right-wing Knesset member Hanan Porat, right, during a tour of the West Bank settlement of Har Harasha northwest of Ramallah.
9/12 Ariel Sharon in 2003
Former US President George W. Bush (C), Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (L) and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) waving for the photographers before their meeting on advancing the 'road map' for peace at the Middle East Summit in Aqaba, Jordan, 4 June 2003.
10/12 Ariel Sharon in 2005
Sharon (R) shakes hands with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas at a peace summit 8 February 2005 in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
11/12 Ariel Sharon in 2005
Sharon is seen as he takes part in the lighting of a Hanukkah candle at his Jerusalem office 27 December, 2005 in Jerusalem, Israel.
12/12 Ariel Sharon
The first Likud prime minister of Israel who was not reared on the muscular Zionism of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the doctrine of “both banks of the Jordan are ours”
He had been in a coma since 2006, but suffered a rapid deterioration in his condition this week, which caused his organs to fail.
Shlomo Noy, the director of Sheba Medical Centre where he was treated, said Mr Sharon was in a “state of minimal consciousness with ups and downs” for the last seven years.
“During the past week, he struggled with surprising strength and determination against the deterioration in his condition and died peacefully,” he told a news conference.
“His heart weakened and he peacefully departed from his family, who were always at his side with love and support.''
At the end of December, a hospital spokesperson Zeev Rotstein described the leader’s condition as "critical", saying that his life was "in danger".
It was an emotional day for the country, where he was one of the most renowned but controversial leaders.
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Ariel Sharon: A life in pictures
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Shimon Peres, the President of Israel, cried as he remembered his former political rival.
“He was an outstanding man and an exceptional commander,” he said.
“He knew no fear. He took difficult decisions and implemented them courageously.”
The current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called his predecessor a “great military leader”, adding that “his memory will live forever in the nation's heart”.
But to many Palestinians, he was a war criminal and hated enemy.
“We will remember Ariel Sharon as the man who killed, destroyed and caused the suffering for several Palestinian generations,” said Khalil Al Hayya , a leader of Hamas - the ruling Islamist group in the Gaza Strip.
“After eight years, he is going the same direction as other tyrants and criminals whose hands were covered with Palestinian blood.”
Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper reported that Palestinians at the Ain al-Hilweh, in south Lebanon, ”rejoiced“ at the news of his death.
“We wish he had fallen in battle,” they reportedly cheered, while playing revolutionary songs inside the camp.
Mr Sharon was long regarded as a standard bearer of the Israeli right after playing a leading role in both the Six Day War of 1967 and Yom Kippur conflict six years later.
After retiring from the Israeli army as a general, he joined the right wing Likud party and was swiftly promoted into the ministerial ranks.
Never one to shun controversy, he was accused, especially by the Palestinians, of being a warmonger and held responsible for many deaths.
He was labelled the ‘Butcher of Beirut’ by some after the deaths of as many as 3,500 Palestinian refugees in the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila camps in Beirut in 1982 when he was Israel’s defence minister.
In September 2000, during his ultimately successful bid to become prime minister he entered the Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem’s Old City with an escort of hundreds of security officials and declared that the site – the holiest in Judaism and third holiest in Islam - would remain under perpetual Israeli control.
Palestinians reacted with fury and many analysts argue that the visit was the trigger for what became the second Palestinian uprising, or Intifada.
His subsequent premiership was dominated by the resultant violence that led to the deaths of more than 1,000 Israelis and 3,500 Palestinians.
As a politician, be became known as "the bulldozer" for his bold tactics, contempt for his critics and hard-line approach.
He was elected prime minister in 2001.
In 2005, he directed the withdrawal of Israeli troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip, bringing an end to the country’s 38-year military control 0f the territory.
The move was seen as a shocking turnaround for Sharon, who had been a forerunner in the building of Jewish settlements in the captured area.
Later quitting the Likud Party, he formed a more central Kadima Party.
He appeared on his way to re-election, but suffered a stroke in January 2006 that left him in a coma. His deputy, Ehud Olmert, took over. A few months later, Olmert was elected prime minister.
At one point, Sharon was taken home briefly, but returned to the hospital where he has remained ever since. He occasionally opens his eyes and moves his fingers, but has remained incapacitated since his admission.Reuse content