Ariel Sharon's casket in Knesset Plaza for public viewing

JERUSALEM, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- The coffin of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was placed outside the Knesset Sunday for Israelis to pay their last respects, officials said.

The casket will remain in Jerusalem's Knesset Plaza until 6 p.m. local time Sunday for members of the public to visit ahead of a funeral procession set to begin Monday at 9:30 a.m., Haaretz reported.


Knesset Plaza will be closed to private vehicles while Sharon's coffin remains there, but the city was offering free transportation to the site throughout the day Sunday.

A memorial service Monday will include speeches from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Other foreign officials expected to attend the ceremony include Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Czech Republic Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok, and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Eight army generals will escort the body to Sharon/s Sycamore Ranch in Negev for burial.

Sharon, who served as Israel's 11th prime minister, died Saturday after being in a coma for eight years due to a stroke.


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