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Tuesday, July 11, 2000, updated at 09:09(GMT+8)

Israeli President Submits Resignation Letter

Israeli President Ezer Weizman submitted his letter of resignation Monday evening, ending his colorful careers as air force general, businessman, minister and president.

The letter was submitted to Knesset (parliament) Speaker Avraham Burg at his office by President Bureau's Director General Arye Shumer on Weizman's behalf. The letter will take effect in 48 hours.

Weizman, who was elected president in 1993 and re-elected in 1998, should end his second term in 2003. However, he was forced to leave the ceremonial post ahead of schedule after the revelation of his financial irregularities with a French Jewish businessman and the subsequent police investigation.

His early resignation was regarded as a heave loss to Israel's peace camp, as the fighter-turned-peacemaker, one of the most outspoken and popular politicians in the Jewish state, was firmly committed to supporting peace talks with Arab countries.

The president was charged by Israeli media reports last December with accepting a large sum of cash gifts from a French millionaire while he was cabinet ministers and legislators between 1988 to 1993.

The police launched a criminal investigation against the president in January. On May 24, Israeli Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein and Prosecutor Edna Arbel announced that they would close the case, but accused Weizman of serious ethnical violations.

Some of the charges, Rubinstein said, were closed without a recommendation to indict only because the statute of limitations on the charges had expired.

Two days later, Weizman informed Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak of his intention to resign on July.

Weizman, born in Tel Aviv on June 15, 1924, is a nephew of Israel's first president, Chaim Weizmann.

He served in the British Royal Air Force during the World War II. Later, he helped found the air force of the newborn Jewish state and became its commander in 1958. He retired in 1969 with the rank of major general and turned to politics.

In 1977, he joined Menachem Begin's cabinet as defense minister and played a major role in Camp David negotiations for the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty, the first peace accord between Israel and an Arab state.

He quit as minister in 1980 to pursue a business career, partly because he felt the government was not doing enough to settle Israel's conflict with other Arab nations and the Palestinians. He later quit the right-wing Likud faction to join the left-wing Labor party. In 1992, he retired from active politics and was elected as the seventh President of the State of Israel a year later.

Israeli Knesset's faction heads will discuss Weizman's resignation later Monday evening and a statement will be made subsequently to the plenum on date of a new presidential election and the deadline for nomination of candidates.

The election, scheduled to take place on July 31, will be a secret ballot in the 120-seat Knesset.

According to Israeli law, if no candidate could get the minimum 61 votes in the first round, a second round will be held immediately. If the impasse persists, a simple majority in the third round will be sufficient.

The two leading candidates now are former prime minister Shimon Peres from the Labor party, and Likud Knesset member Moshe Katsav.

However, any group of 10 legislators could submit a candidate before July 21, 10 days before the election.

The inauguration of a new president will take place a day after the election, or on August 1, before the Knesset begins its summer recess August 4.

Speaker Burg, who is also vice-president, will serve as acting- president during the interim period between Weizman's resignation and the inauguration.

In This Section

Israeli President Ezer Weizman submitted his letter of resignation Monday evening, ending his colorful careers as air force general, businessman, minister and president.

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