No condolences from Turkey for Sharon's death

January 13, 2014, Monday/ 18:23:00

Turkey has not extended condolences to Israel after former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died on Saturday and there was no official representative attending the state funeral on Monday for the controversial Israeli politician who went down in history as the architect of a massacre of Palestinian civilians in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon in the 1980s.

The funeral was attended by several foreign dignitaries, including US Vice President Joe Biden, Middle East international envoy Tony Blair, Czech Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said dignitaries had come from 21 countries, but did not list any delegations from the Middle East, Africa or Latin America. Egypt, the first Arab country to make peace with Israel, sent a low-level diplomat.

Commenting on the death of the former prime minister in a Twitter statement, AK Party Deputy Chairman Hüseyin Çelik wrote: “Even the death agony of Sharon lasted eight years," referring to the fact that Sharon was in a coma for eight years before his death on Saturday. "One dies in the way one lives."

As prime minister, Sharon presided over some of the most turbulent times in Israeli-Palestinian history. Sharon, serving in 1998 as foreign minister, urged settlers in the West Bank to run and grab as many hilltops as they could to enlarge the settlements, saying, “Because everything we take now will stay ours.”

As defense minister under Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Sharon masterminded the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, one of Israel's most divisive campaigns.

The Arab hatred of Sharon reached its peak with the massacre of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in the Lebanese refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila by Israeli-allied Christian militiamen. He denied wrongdoing but was eventually forced to resign as defense chief in 1983 after an Israeli probe said he bore "personal responsibility" for not preventing the bloodshed.

After holding a series of cabinet posts, he was elected head of Likud in 1999 and prime minister in 2001, serving until his stroke five years later.

Sharon was married twice. His first wife, Margalit, died in a car accident in 1962. They had one son, who was killed in 1967 when a friend accidentally shot him while playing with a rifle. In 1963, Sharon married Margalit's sister, Lily, who died of cancer in 2000. They had two sons.

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