Israeli leader expresses faith in Middle East talks But president warns in College Park lecture about having high hopes

October 08, 1997|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Israeli President Ezer Weizman said yesterday that neither his people nor the Palestinians can expect to receive everything they want out of peace negotiations but warned they would "really have to be insane" to pull out of them now.

Delivering the first annual Anwar Sadat Lecture for Peace at the University of Maryland, Weizman noted that his country's talks with the Palestinian authority "are now in a very complex crisis" that is worsening relations with Egypt and Jordan.

But Weizman, Israel's ceremonial head of state, said he was certain that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will do his utmost to promote cooperation with the Palestinians.

"It could be that a lot of people have difficulty in understanding him," Weizman said of Netanyahu.

That oblique reference was the closest Weizman came to mentioning the controversy over a bungled attempt to assassinate a radical Palestinian leader in Amman, Jordan, last month.

Weizman's lecture, delivered one day after the 16th anniversary of Sadat's assassination in Cairo, dwelt more on the achievements of the Egyptian president and of slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin than on the missteps of contemporary leaders.

Weizman, who was introduced by Sadat's widow, Jihan Sadat, hailed the two men as "great leaders" who paid with their lives for their efforts at Arab-Israeli peace.

"Both Sadat and Rabin understood that one has to 'grab the moment' and to rise above personal feelings, above memories of the past, above the expected opposition at home and perform an act that for them personally was very difficult at the time," he said.

He said Israelis must not lose faith in the peace process despite recent terror attacks on civilians. But he warned both sides against unreasonable expectations.

"It is worth stating here, both to my people and to the Palestinian people, that we will not receive everything and they will not receive everything," he said.

Weizman was defense minister under Prime Minister Menachem Begin at the time of the 1978 Camp David peace accords.

Pub Date: 10/08/97

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