Members of the Knesset guard stand around the flag draped coffin of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon as he lies in state at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem January 12, 2014.(REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
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Lying in state outside the Israeli Parliament Sunday, Ariel Sharon was praised at home for being a military hero, while the Middle East united in condemning the former prime minister as a war criminal.Palestinian response focused on Sharon's role as a military commander, a politician who built settlements in the West Bank and Gaza and a defense minister that an Israeli government panel said bore indirect responsibility for the 1982 slaughter of hundreds of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Sharon died Saturday, aged 85, after eight years in a coma. U.S. President Barack Obama praised Sharon as a leader who dedicated his life to his country, and said the U.S. remained committed to finding peace for Israelis and Palestinians.German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised Sharon in a statement "as an Israeli patriot who served his country well".Throughout his life, Sharon was at the center of the most contentious episodes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, starting as a soldier fighting in the 1948 war over Israel's creation.
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