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Major General(Retd) Ezer Weizman

Weizman(top right) with Jiang Zemin

Ezer Weizman began his long military career by joining the Royal Air Force in 1942 at age 18. He spent a number of years in India stationed as a Royal Air Force pilot in Bangalore. Weizman saw action during World War II and became a fighter ace. On returning to Mandatory Palestine after the war, Weizman was one of a handful of pilots who founded the "Air Service" of the Haganahin. In 1949 during Suez Canal hostilities the British sided with Egypt, four Israeli Airforce Spitfires lead by Ezer Weizman pounced 8 British Spitfires. Two RAF aircraft were shot down in the battle that followed. With the final result 5:0 in favor of the IAF, the British decided not to engage the Israelis anymore.

During the 1960's, the Israeli Air Force was under the control of Ezer Weizman. Weizman worked hard on teamwork skills, and producing stronger, skilled pilots. There were very high standards which made the pilots extremely skilled. The Israel Air Force wanted to have the best men and equipment in the world. He served as a fighter pilot during the War of Independence, commanded a squadron, and later(1958-66) was O.C. of the Israel Air Force, in which capacity he introduced the use of electronic warfare systems in aircraft. During the Six-Day War he was Chief of Operations of the General Staff, and later Deputy Chief of Staff. He retired in 1969 with the rank of major-general, and turned to politics, serving as Minister of Defense.

In 1979, Weizman was a member of the Israeli negotiating team to the talks that culminated in the Camp David peace treaty with Egypt. In 1993 Weizman was elected as the seventh President of the State of Israel. As President he openly criticized the government's performance and attempted to prevent derailing of the peace process. His unique brand of personal diplomacy, his charm and his personal ties opened communication lines between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and with Egypt. He was re-elected to a second term in May 1998, and resigned from the Presidency in July 2000.

Advani and Weizman discuss counter-terrorism

Mr Weizman was among those leaders who had played a key role in improving India-Israel relations. He has visited India many times encouraging Indo-Israeli defence cooperation and providing help in counter-terrorism.