Former Israeli P.M. Ariel Sharon Given State Funeral

Current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden were among the world leaders in attendence.
Posted at 1:05 PM, Jan 13, 2014

Israel bid farewell to its former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in a state funeral Monday.

Dozens of dignitaries were on hand to pay tribute to Sharon — who died at age 85, after spending eight years in a stroke-induced coma. (Via BBC)

​​Nicknamed both “the bulldozer” and “the butcher,” Sharon's death has re-opened the debate into his legacy. (Via ABC)

To many, Sharon was a war criminal — hated for ordering a raid that killed hundreds of Palestinians at refugee camps in Lebanon. And his push to build Jewish settlements in occupied territory attracted worldwide condemnation. (Via YouTube / lumaix

But then he surprised the world when in 2005 he withdrew troops from Gaza — one of those territories — despite opposition from within his own party. (Via CBS

While there was no direct mention of these controversies at the funeral, Vice President Joe Biden and former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair made reference to them.

BIDEN: "History will judge that he also lived in complex times, in a very complex neighborhood." (Via U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv)

 BLAIR: “When that meant fighting, he fought. When that meant making peace, he sought peace.” (Via ITV)

And even those who didn’t always see eye to eye with Sharon had kind words for the former leader. (Via Channel 4

Like Israel’s current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who resigned from Sharon’s cabinet in protest of the Gaza withdrawal. (Via U.S. Department of Defense

At the service, he described Sharon as a man whose pragmatism was rooted in deep emotion for his country and the Jewish people. (Via Jewish News One)

After the funeral Monday, Sharon's body was taken to his family’s ranch in southern Israel for burial.