British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw lauded Sharon.

Western leaders reeling from the news of Ariel Sharon's stroke are offering condolences, with some Mideast politicians predicting the peace process could deteriorate without the Israeli prime minister.

U.S. President George W. Bush called Sharon, who was in serious condition Thursday following the massive brain hemorrhage, a "man of courage and peace" and said he was "praying for his recovery."

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw lauded Sharon for moving ahead in the peace process and said his illness came as a shock.

French President Jacques Chirac wished Sharon well and offered support and solidarity to Ehud Olmert, who has taken over as Israel's interim prime minister.

Concerns from the Middle East focused on the effect Sharon's condition could have on the peace process.

The Palestinians' chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, predicted peace efforts would deteriorate further without Sharon, even though Erekat described negotiations as often one-sided.

The outcome of Sharon's condition will have an impact on every Palestinian, he added.

One Palestinian politician, Nabil Shaath, said Sharon's condition would increase the level of uncertainty in the peace process. That's despite Shaath's view that Sharon had been making minimal progress in that area.

A commentary in the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir suggested Sharon's illness is "an earthquake, whose aftershocks will be local." It also said Israel is on the brink of political strife.

A Palestinian commentator on Al-Arabiya network praised Sharon as "the first Israeli leader who stopped claiming Israel had a right to all of the Palestinians' land."

However, not everyone praised Sharon's efforts.

The chief spokesman for the militant group Hamas called Sharon one of the "worst leaders" in the world.