World leaders paid tribute to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who died Saturday.
U.S. President Barack Obama lauded Sharon's dedication to the Jewish state and reaffirmed an "unshakable commitment" to Israel's security.
"On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the family of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and to the people of Israel on the loss of a leader who dedicated his life to the State of Israel," Obama said.
"We reaffirm our unshakable commitment to Israel's security and our appreciation for the enduring friendship between our two countries and our two peoples.
"We continue to strive for lasting peace and security for the people of Israel, including through our commitment to the goal of two states living side-by-side in peace and security," he said.
Vice President Joe Biden, who will represent the United States at the state ceremony honoring Sharon, which has been set for Monday, said in a statement: "Jill and I were saddened to hear of the passing of Ariel Sharon. We send our condolences to his family and to his beloved nation of Israel.
"I look forward to leading the U.S. delegation to his memorial service, to pay respects to the man and to pay tribute to the unshakable partnership between the United States and Israel."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who will not attend the funeral over what State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called "previously scheduled meetings in Paris focused on the situation in Syria and the Middle East peace process," also issued a statement of condolences: "Ariel Sharon's journey was Israel's journey. The dream of Israel was the cause of his life, and he risked it all to live that dream.
"I remember reading about Arik in the papers when I was a young lawyer in Boston and marveling at his commitment to cause and country. I will never forget meeting with this big bear of a man when he became prime minister as he sought to bend the course of history toward peace, even as it meant testing the patience of his own longtime supporters and the limits of his own, lifelong convictions in the process.
"He was prepared to make tough decisions because he knew that his responsibility to his people was both to ensure their security and to give every chance to the hope that they could live in peace," Kerry said.
"During his years in politics, it is no secret that there were times the United States had differences with him. But whether you agreed or disagreed with his positions -- and Arik was always crystal clear about where he stood -- you admired the man who was determined to ensure the security and survival of the Jewish state. In his final years as prime minister, he surprised many in his pursuit of peace, and today, we all recognize, as he did, that Israel must be strong to make peace, and that peace will also make Israel stronger. We honor Arik's legacy and those of Israel's founding generation by working to achieve that goal."
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, issued a joint statement saying, "It was an honor to work with him, argue with him, and watch him always trying to find the right path for his beloved country.
"Ariel Sharon gave his life to Israel -- to bring it into being, to sustain and preserve it, and at the end of his long service, to create a new political party committed to both a just peace and lasting security," the Clintons said.
Former U.S. President George W. Bush said Saturday, "I was honored to know this man of courage and call him friend. He was a warrior for the ages and a partner in seeking security for the Holy Land and a better, peaceful Middle East. Laura and I send our heartfelt condolences to Ariel's family and all who will dearly miss him."
Former U.S. Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross called Sharon a "giant," adding that "he certainly came to believe that the only way peace would be possible would be for Israeli strength to be respected."
Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice noted that Sharon was "a man of enormous courage ... a wonderful, historic leader."
Other U.S. politicians also paid tribute to the former prime minister.
"I join the people of the Jewish state of Israel in mourning the loss of Ariel Sharon, one of the greatest warrior-statesmen in modern history," John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House, said. "Sharon's contribution to establishing and defending Israel's independence is incalculable and his devotion to peace undisputed," Boehner added.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, lauded Sharon's courage to forge ahead with Israel's 2005 disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip despite fierce opposition in Israel: "It was a difficult choice founded in the same tenet that defined so much of Sharon's career: the national security interest of the people and the nation of Israel," Pelosi said in a statement.
"Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dedicated his life to building, defending, and leading the State of Israel. He was a soldier and an officer, a public servant to his people and a powerful voice for his beliefs and values," she said.
Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, praised Sharon as "a legendary military man" who "distinguished himself as a strategist and a soldier in virtually every major Israeli conflict of the second half of the 20th century."
"Israel has lost one of its greatest sons and America a friend in the passing of Ariel Sharon," McConnell said.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also offered his condolences over the former prime minister's passing, describing him as a "renowned military leader."
"Mr. Sharon pursued the security of Israel with unyielding determination that was recognized by friends and foes alike. He also played a central role in the Israeli government for several years, changing the political landscape through his leadership and vision.
"We join today with those mourning the loss of Ariel Sharon, one of the architects of modern-day Israel and one of the nation's staunchest defenders," Harper said.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that "Sharon will be remembered for his political courage and determination to carry through with the painful and historic decision to withdraw Israeli settlers and troops from the Gaza Strip. His successor faces the difficult challenge of realizing the aspirations of peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people."
Europe's leaders paid tribute to Sharon as well.
"Ariel Sharon is one of the most significant figures in Israeli history," British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement released Saturday evening.
"As prime minister he took brave and controversial decisions in pursuit of peace, before he was so tragically incapacitated. Israel has today lost an important leader."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a statement saying, "Ariel Sharon was an Israeli patriot who rendered a great service to his country.
"With his brave decision to withdraw Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip, he took a historic step towards reconciliation with the Palestinians and a two-state solution."
French President François Hollande hailed the former premier as a "major figure in the history of his country, who after a long military career, chose to turn to dialogue with the Palestinians."
The Kremlin said in a statement that Russian President Vladimir Putin "highly praised Ariel Sharon's personal qualities and his activities to protect Israel's interests, noting a high respect for him among compatriots and his high authority in the international arena. … He was an outstanding statesman and military commander."