Ariel Sharon

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Ariel Sharon (Hebrew: About this sound אריאל שרון‎, also known by his diminutive Arik, אַריק, born Ariel Scheinermann, אריאל שיינרמן on 26 February 1928) is an Israeli statesman and retired general, who served as Israel’s 11th Prime Minister. He is currently in a permanent vegetative state after suffering a stroke on 4 January 2006.

Sharon was a commander in the Israeli Army since its inception in 1948. He participated in the 1948 War of Independence, 1956 Suez War, Six-Day War of 1967, and the Yom-Kippur War of 1973. After retiring from the army, Sharon joined the right-wing Likud party, and served in a number of ministerial posts in Likud-led governments in 1977-1992 and 1996-1999. He became the leader of the Likud in 2000, and served as Israel’s Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006.

During his long military and political career, Sharon was considered a controversial and polarizing figure. In 1983 a commission established by the Israeli Government found that as Minister of Defense during the 1982 Lebanon War Sharon bore personal, but indirect, responsibility for the massacre by Lebanese militias of Palestinian civilians in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. His actions during this conflict led to calls for him to be tried as a war criminal for the slaughter of thousands of innocent people. In 1970s, 1980s and 1990s Sharon championed construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, as Prime Minister, in 2004-2005 Sharon orchestrated Israel's unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip. Facing stiff opposition to this policy within the Likud, in November 2005 he left Likud to form a new Kadima party. In January 2006 Sharon suffered a major stroke that left him in a permanent vegetative state. In March 2006 elections, Kadima, led by Ehud Olmert following Sharon's stroke, went on to win plurality of Knesset seats, becoming the senior coalition partner in Israel's 31st government.


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