Title: 11th Prime Minister of Israel
Born: Sharon was born Ariel Scheinermann on February 27, 1928 in Kfar Malal in pre-state Israel. His father was a Jew of German-Polish origin, and his mother was a Jew of Russian origin. As veterans of the Second Aliyah, Sharon's parents were socialists with a secular worldview.
Education: He holds an LL.B in Law from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1962).
Military Career: Sharon served for over thirty years in the Israeli Defense Forces. Sharon joined the Haganah at the age of 14. He rose to the rank of Major General and achieved fame within Israel for his actions in the 1967 Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Political Career: Sharon is a long-standing political leader. Between 1973-2006, he served as Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Defense, Minister without Portfolio, Minister of Industry and Trade, Minister of Housing and Construction, Minister of National Infrastructure, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Immigrant Absorption, Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister of Health, Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, Minister of Transportation, Minister of Communications, and Minister of Religious Affairs.
Political Party: In late 2005, Sharon resigned from the Likud party and founded a new centrist party called Kadima. For the first time in recent Israeli history, the March 2006 Knesset race is between three major parties (Kadima, Likud, and Labor) as opposed to the usual two (Likud and Labor).
Supporters: Supporters see Sharon as working to establish peace without sacrificing Israel's security. Many Israelis also view him as a war hero, who helped defend the country during some of its greatest struggles.
Critics: Left-wing critics of Sharon feel that his aggressive actions have been damaging to the peace process. Right-wing critics of Sharon criticize the withdrawal from Gaza as giving up too much security in exchange for peace. Furthermore, some consider certain of his wartime actions (particularly during the 1982 Lebanon War) to have been war crimes.
Personal: Sharon was widowed twice. He married Margalit, whom he called Gali, in 1953. They had one son, Gur. Margalit died in a car accident in 1962. Gur died in 1967 at age 11 in a shooting accident while playing with a friend. In 1963, Sharon married Margalit's younger sister, Lilly. They had two sons, Omri and Gilad. Lily died of cancer in 2000. Sharon has three grandchildren.
Latest News: Sharon was hospitalized on December 18, 2005 after suffering a minor stroke. Sharon was released from the hospital on December 20. During his hospital stay, Sharon was also diagnosed with a minor hole in his heart and was scheduled to undergo a cardiac catheterization to fill the hole on January 5, 2006. On January 4, 2006, Sharon suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke, with bleeding on the brain, and was evacuated to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem to undergo brain surgery. Following the surgery, the hospital director reported, "All vital signs are functional and stable. The prime minister is in critical condition."