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Moshe Dayan: of war, of peace

Moshe Dayan, the military hero and statesman who died here Friday, was Israel's architect of war and peace, generating a charisma that at one time made him easily the nation's most popular leader.

Mr. Dayan served in various Cabinets as minister of defense, foreign affairs, and agriculture. His charisma stemmed primarily from his victories in war. He masterminded the 1956 capture of the Sinai Peninsula and later Israel's crushing victory over the Arabs in the 1967 six-day war.

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Blamed, however, for the heavy casualties and errors made in the October 1973 war, in which Egypt and Syrian armies caught Israel completely off guard, Dayan's popularity dimmed.

Nevertheless, many Israelis continued to admire his original political ideas, and Prime Minister Menachem Begin named him foreign minister after the upset victory in 1977 of the right-wing Likud over the Labor party to which Dayan had belonged for decades. Dayan was criticized for his party switch, but he maintained that his single aim was to gain an Israeli-Arab peace no matter which political grouping achieved it.

He was a primary architect in achieving the Camp David peace agreement with Egypt, but he resigned from the Begin Cabinet in 1979, describing Mr. Begin's stance on Palestinian autonomy as too hard-line.

Since then he had called repeatedly for unilateral Israeli moves to bring Palestinians into the negotiation. But he was unable to wield enough political weight to gain backing of his ideas in last June's elections, when his new political party secured only two seats in the Knesset.


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