Many world leaders have paid tribute to Ariel Sharon's significant role in Israeli history, and his critics also are speaking out.
In one of the first comments after announcement of his predecessor's death Saturday at a hospital near Tel Aviv, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his "deep sorrow, and said Mr. Sharon's memory will live forever in the nation's heart.
Palestinian leaders denounced Mr. Sharon, whom they had strongly opposed throughout his public life. The radical Islamist Hamas faction that now controls Gaza called him a "tyrant," and the leader of the Fatah movement, Jibril Rajoub, called Mr. Sharon a "criminal" and expressed regret he was never taken before the International Criminal Court.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered condolences to Mr. Sharon's family and called him "a hero to his people, first as a soldier and then a statesman." He praised the former prime minister for the "political courage" he displayed in 2005, when Israel unilaterally withdrewing its settlers and troops from the Gaza Strip.
French President François Hollande said Mr. Sharon was a "major actor in the history of his country." Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron said Israel has "lost an important leader."
In the United States, former president Bill Clinton and his wife, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said in a joint statement that they were honored to work with Mr. Sharon, argue with him and watch him try to find the right path for his country.