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Israel Holds Memorial for Late PM Sharon

Israel is holding a state memorial service for former prime minister Ariel Sharon, who died Saturday at the age of 85.

The service Monday at the country's parliament will be followed by a private funeral at Mr. Sharon's ranch in the Negev desert in southern Israel.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and former British prime minister Tony Blair are among those speaking at the memorial. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said officials from Russia, Germany, Spain, Canada and the Czech Republic are also among those attending the service.

Mr. Sharon's body lay in state for several hours in parliament Sunday as mourners paid their last respects.

He served as Israel's prime minister from 2001 until 2006 when he had a massive stroke that left him in a coma for the last eight years of his life.

Mr. Netanyahu said there is "deep sorrow" in the Jewish state over Mr. Sharon's death. Mr. Netanyahu says the former leader will live forever in the nation's heart.

U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders sent condolence messages to Israel and Mr. Sharon's family. But Palestinians who had seen the former minister as a bitter enemy rejoiced at the news of his death.

Mr. Sharon was one of Israel's most influential and controversial figures, as both a military commander and a political leader.