The Union for Reform Judaism mourned the death of former prime minister Ariel Sharon on Saturday.

"Today, we mourn the death of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, an iconic leader whose love for Israel and the Jewish people infused his entire illustrious career. He was a visionary, larger than life, with the courage to constantly assess his stated positions, always with an eye toward pragmatism and concern for his beloved Israel," URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacons stated.

"His military prowess did not always serve him well. His decision, as Israel's Minister of Defense, to promote the 1982 war in Lebanon, and his actions that played a role in the deaths of residents of the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp by Lebanese phalangists, were terribly misguided," Jacobs added.

"But, after a national inquiry and his resignation, he successfully returned to political life, capturing the votes and affection of the Israeli public. Most dramatically, this one-time architect of Israel's settlement project, as Prime Minister from 2003-2005, led the government that forced a withdrawal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza strip, showing that throughout his storied career, he remained firm in his resolve to do what he saw as best for Israel's security," he said. 

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