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Hundreds Attend Israel's State Memorial Service For Ariel Sharon

Those in attendance included Joe Biden, Tony Blair, and Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Hundreds of international dignitaries attended the state memorial ceremony for Ariel Sharon at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, on Monday morning.

Ronen Zvulun / Reuters

The controversial former prime minister of Israel died on Saturday, eight years after suffering from a stroke that left him in a coma from which he never recovered.

Vice President Joe Biden attended and spoke at the memorial, calling Sharon an "indomitable bulldozer" and described Sharon's main mission as being the security of his people.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed his differences with Sharon by saying he "didn't always agree with Arik and he didn't always agree with me," but added Sharon "one of the big warriors" for the nation of Israel.

AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner

Netanyahu also said of Sharon: "He was pragmatic. His pragmatism was rooted in deep emotion, deep emotion for the state, for the Jewish people."

Darren Whiteside / Reuters

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (standing) shakes hands with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden during a memorial ceremony for the former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon at the Knesset, Israel's parliament.

Former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair also spoke at the memorial, calling Sharon "a giant of this land."

AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner

"Think good or ill of Arik Sharon, agree or disagree with him, but that calling — a noble one — was plain and unalloyed." Blair added that Sharon was "a warrior to create his country, yet wise enough to know that war alone could not secure his future."

President Shimon Peres called Sharon "man of the land" and a "military legend" during his speech at the memorial.

AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner

President Peres also said: "He defended this land like a lion and he taught its children to swing a scythe. He was a military legend in his lifetime and then turned his gaze to the day Israel would dwell in safety, when our children would return to our borders and peace would grace the Promised Land."

After the memorial on Monday, Sharon's body was to be taken from the Knesset to his farm in southern Israel for a private burial on the family's desert ranch in southern Israel.

Cate Sevilla is the UK managing editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.

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