In death as in life, Ariel Sharon’s legacy is dividing opinion.
“Arik was a valorous soldier and a bold statesman who contributed much to the security and building up of the State of Israel,” said President Shimon Peres, a former political ally of Sharon and, with the ex-premier’s death, the last of the Jewish state’s founders still in public life.
Using the nickname of the famously burly and blunt Sharon, Peres added: “Arik knew no fear and never feared pursuing a vision.”
Palestinians accused Sharon of sparking their “Intifada” with a provocative visit to the al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City.
“We have become more confident in victory with the departure
of this tyrant (Sharon),” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. “Our people today feel extreme happiness at the death and departure of this criminal whose hands were smeared with the blood of our people and the blood of our leaders here and in exile,” he added.
Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron described Sharon as an important leader: “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.
The US President Barack Obama reaffirmed America’s commitment to Israeli security and said Sharon was a leader who “dedicated his life to Israel.”
Sentiments shared by the French President Francois Hollande.
“Ariel Sharon … has been a major actor in the history of his country. After a long military and political career, he made the choice to turn towards dialogue with Palestinians,” Hollande said in a statement.
“The Palestinian people remember what Sharon did and tried
to do to our people and their dream of forming a state,” said Wael
Abu Youself, a senior member of Abbas’s umbrella Palestine
“Despite the settlements and wars that he launched against us, here and in Lebanon and with the war crime of Sabra and Shatila (camps), Sharon has departed and the Palestinian people remain on their land.”