Ariel Sharon's massive stroke sparks reactions around world

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's massive stroke sparked reactions around the world. Here are some excerpts: "This is a difficult situation that we are not accustomed to. The strength and power of the state of Israel will know how to deal with it .... Arik (Sharon) is not only a prime minister and a leader but also a close friend to us all. This is a difficult hour and we will stand together,” Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in a statement to an emergency meeting of Israel's Cabinet.

"To anyone who entertains any notion to try and exploit this situation ... the security forces and IDF (Israeli military) are ready for any kind of challenge,” Sharon spokesman Raanan Gissin. "This is of course a tragedy. I am not a supporter of Kadima (Sharon's political party). I am a supporter of Likud, but this does not make me happy when a prime minister is in a serious condition." Jerusalem resident Dennis Turner.

"No doubt, this is an event that will have an impact, not only on Israel, but also the region." Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia.

"On behalf of all Americans, we send our best wishes and hopes to the prime minister and his family." U.S. President George W. Bush. "If Sharon passes away, it will affect the peace process. Sharon went a long way down the path to peace, and he is the only Israeli leader capable of making peace with the Palestinians." Jalal Salman, 26, Palestinian resident of West Bank city of Nablus.

"Finally, God has answered thousands of worshippers' prayers to punish this criminal." Omar Musleh, 22, Palestinian university student in the Gaza Strip, reports the AP. I.L.

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