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Ariel Sharon was an Israeli military leader and politician who was elected prime minister of the country in 2001, serving until 2006.
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Some have speculated that Sharon, a pragmatist at heart, came to realize that holding on to the area had become untenable.
In 2005, Sharon broke with the Likud Party to form a new centrist political group, known as the Kadima Party. He had little time to build this more moderate entity, suffering a mild stroke that December. The following January, Sharon had another stroke, which left him in a coma. Ehud Olmert replaced him as prime minister, as Sharon was declared "permanently incapacitated."
In late 2011, reports surfaced that Sharon had showed some signs of consciousness. His son, Gilad, told the press that his father could move his fingers when asked and make eye contact with visitors. Gilad recently wrote a book about his father, entitled Sharon: The Life of a Leader. Sharon's other son, Omri, has followed in his footsteps, serving in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. Their mother, Lili, Sharon's second wife, died in 2000.
On January 11, 2014, after spending eight years in a coma, Sharon died at the age of 85. With his brash and sometimes ruthless military and political maneuvers, Sharon inspired intense reactions from his fellow countrymen and the world at large. His legacy is likely to be viewed in opposing terms—a military tyrant and a tireless defender of Israel. As journalist Ilene R. Prusher wrote in The Christian Science Monitor, "There is one thing that Sharon's fans and foes can agree on: the man's nearly unstoppable determination to do whatever he deemed best for the sake of Israel's security."
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