Rabin’s Memory Invoked in Israeli Political Crisis

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaks during a memorial ceremony marking 24 years since the assassination of Yitczhak Rabin, in the Knesset on Sunday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The annual memorials for assassinated Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin once again became part of the ongoing struggle for power between Israel’s right and left wings on Sunday.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏ felt compelled, not for the first time, to defend his behavior in the days leading up to the assassination in 1995.

“In the years since the murder I’ve heard the false claim that when a fanatical member of the [national] camp who opposed Oslo called Rabin a traitor, I stood on the side, was silent and even supportive. I’ve heard this at almost every memorial, but this lie which has been repeated many times doesn’t become the truth,” PM Netanyahu said during the ceremony at Mount Herzl military cemetery in Yerushalayim.

Separately, at a memorial session at the Knesset, Netanyahu accused his antagonists of seeking to exploit the state memorial as a “blatant political rally.”

“It happened after the memorial in Rabin Square turned into a political rally for Blue and White,” said Netanyahu. “My friend, Benny Gantz, I would expect that we wouldn’t only speak about hate, but also about unity.”

“Many have turned to me and implored me not to come to the state memorial after what happened during it last year,” added the prime minister. “I said to them that I would arrive because the late prime minister Rabin was prime minister of all of us. This is a state memorial for a prime minister of Israel and it is fitting to respect it.”

Gantz also spoke at the Knesset, where he blamed the current political impasse on Netanyahu. He warned that Israel is in a state of “paralysis because it was decided to bring forward elections for the 21st Knesset for personal reasons and a moment after it was dissolved for the same reasons,” referring to decisions after his failure to form a government after the April elections.

“The paralysis that we’re currently in is fertile ground for deepening divisions and controversies,” said Gantz. “The looming danger for Israeli society is the greatest since the days before the murder [of Rabin.]”

President Reuven Rivlin cited the Rabin assassination as a warning against the potential for renewed violence.

“The fear of another political murder, and the hope this murder won’t happen, does not belong to one camp or another. This is a shared fear by all of us,” the president said.

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