Foreign Minister of Israel 1998-1999
Prime Minister of Israel 2001-2006
Ariel ('Arik') Sharon was born in 1928 in Kfar Malal. He served in the IDF for more than 25 years, retiring with the rank of Major-General. He holds an LL.B in Law from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1962).
Sharon joined the Haganah at the age of 14. During the 1948 War of Independence, he commanded an infantry company in the Alexandroni Brigade. In 1953, he founded and led the "101" special commando unit which carried out retaliatory operations. Sharon was appointed commander of a paratroop brigade in 1956 and fought in the Sinai Campaign. In 1957 he attended the Camberley Staff College in Great Britain.
During 1958-62, Sharon served as an infantry brigade commander and then as Infantry School Commander. He was appointed Head of the IDF Northern Command in 1964 and Head of the Army Training Branch in 1966. He participated in the 1967 Six Day War as commander of an armored division. In 1969 he was appointed Head of the IDF Southern Command.
Sharon resigned from the army in 1973, but was recalled to active military service in the October 1973 Yom Kippur War to command an armored division. He led the crossing of the Suez Canal which brought about victory in the war and eventual peace with Egypt.
Ariel Sharon was elected to the Knesset in December 1973, but resigned a year later, serving as security adviser to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (1975-76).
He was again elected to the Knesset in 1977 on the Shlomzion ticket. Appointed Minister of Agriculture in Menachem Begin's first government (1977-81), he pursued agricultural cooperation with Egypt.
In 1981 Ariel Sharon was appointed Defense Minister, serving in this post during the Lebanon War, which brought about the destruction of the PLO terrorist infrastructure in Lebanon. In the realm of international relations, he was instrumental in renewing diplomatic relations with the African nations which had broken off ties with Israel during the Yom Kippur War. In November 1981, he brought about the first strategic cooperation agreement with the U.S. and widened defense ties between Israel and many nations. He also helped bring thousands of Jews from Ethiopia through Sudan.
From 1983-84, Sharon served as Minister without Portfolio, and from 1984-1990 as Minister of Trade and Industry. In this capacity, he concluded the Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. in 1985.
From 1990-1992, he served as Minister of Construction and Housing and Chairman of the Ministerial Committee on Immigration and Absorption. Following the fall of the Soviet Union and the waves of immigration from Russia, he initiated and carried out a program to absorb the immigrants throughout the country, including the construction of 144,000 apartments.
From 1992-1996, he served as a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
In 1996, Ariel Sharon was appointed Minister of National Infrastructure and was involved in fostering joint ventures with Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinians. He also served as Chairman of the Ministerial Committee for Bedouin advancement.
In 1998 Ariel Sharon was appointed Foreign Minister and headed the permanent status negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
While serving as Foreign Minister, Sharon met with U.S., European, Palestinian and Arab leaders to advance the peace process. He worked mostly to create and advance projects such as the Flagship Water Project funded by the international community to find a long-term solution to the region's water crisis and a basis to peaceful relations between Israel, Jordan, the Palestinians and other Middle Eastern countries.
Following the election of Ehud Barak as Prime Minister in May 1999, Ariel Sharon was called upon to become interim Likud party leader, and in September 1999 was elected Chairman of the Likud. He served as a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
On February 6, 2001, Ariel Sharon was elected Prime Minister. He presented his government to the Knesset on March 7, 2001. After calling early elections to the 16th Knesset, which were held on January 28, 2003, Ariel Sharon was charged by the president with the task of forming a government and presented his new government to the Knesset on February 27, 2003.
A policy statement issued by the Israeli government following the election of Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister in February 2001 reaffirmed the Israeli government's determination to achieve peace with its Palestinian neighbors. In May 2003 his government accepted the US road map for a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. In June 2004, the government approved the Disengagement Plan from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria, which was implemented the following year, in order to create the opportunity for peace.
On January 4, 2006, after forming a new party, Kadima, in anticipation of elections to the 17th Knesset, Prime Minister Sharon suffered a brain hemorrhage and Ehud Olmert was designated Acting Prime Minister in accordance with the Basic Law: Government.
Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon never regained consciousness and passed away eight years later, on January 11th, 2014.
He was widowed and is survived by two sons, Omri and Gilad.