Ezer Weizman, who headed Israel’s air force from 1958 to 1966 and led its surprise attack against Egypt in the Six Day War, resigned from the Knesset on this date in 1992, warning that the Israeli government under Yitzhak Shamir was leading the country toward war. The nephew of Israel’s founding President Chaim Weizmann and former Defense Minister under Menachem Begin, Weizman had moved into the peace camp to serve as an architect of the 1978 Camp David peace accords with Egypt, and had pursued secret contacts with the PLO when such activity was banned. “After serious consideration I have decided to resign my post in the Knesset,” he said, expressing concern “for the fate and image of the State of Israel in the years ahead. I am troubled by the grave feeling that the path we are taking does not lead to peace, but to an impasse behind which is the horror of war.” He returned to government the following year as Israel’s 7th President (a largely symbolic post) and was reelected in 1998, but stepped down in 2000 to avoid prosecution on corruption charges. In 2005, the year of his death, Weizman was voted the 9th greatest Israeli of all time in a national poll.
“Weizman was not the only Israeli military leader to evolve from a fierce, distrustful hawk to an ardent peace advocate. But few made that transition so rapidly and dramatically, and with such public consequence.” —William A. Orme Jr. and Greg Myre, New York Times