Opposition leader and Zionist Union MK Isaac Herzog sharply rebuked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during Monday's Knesset memorial for slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, accusing him of remaining silent when people called Rabin a traitor in the week's leading up to his assassination.
Earlier Monday, Netanyahu implicitly compared the current wave of violence with the security situation that faced Rabin before his assassination.
Netanyahu was addressing an official ceremony at Har Herzl in Jerusalem commemorating the twentieth anniversary of Rabin's murder.
"I'm not saying I didn't have differences with Rabin," Netanyahu said. "He wanted to act in the interests of peace, but he too was compelled to deal with the terror wielded against the Jewish people."
He added that "Rabin knew that the terrorists aspire to shed our blood, to uproot us from our homeland – the same Palestinian terror and recalcitrance that continues until today.
"We say to extremist Islam what Rabin said: We will continue to insist on our right to live in our land. No knife or landmine will defeat us. We will continue to act against terror."
The assassination of Rabin "caused a huge rift in our national home" and "left all of us wounded and hurting," Netanyahu said.
"We are proud of being the only democracy in the Middle East … but even a successful democracy sometimes has to confront times of crisis which threaten its functioning, its stability and its values."
The prime minister stressed that "no religious decree is above the law of the state, neither Jewish, Islamic nor any other, Democracy must defend itself, which is why I recently ordered administrative detention for Jewish terrorists, lawbreakers and those who take advantage of democracy in order to harm it.:
"Nevertheless," he added, "I believe that the vast majority of Israelis understand that we need to stand together on the side of the law."
President Reuven Rivlin said in his address that "the three bullets that the killer fired at Yitzhak didn't harm only him. They tore a hole in the heart of Israeli democracy and left it blacker than black."
The president also stressed the importance that Rabin gave to maintaining the unity of Jerusalem. "Rabin and Jerusalem were intertwined," he said.
Also speaking at the ceremony was Dalia Rabin, daughter of the slain prime minister. "I thought that the darkness that descended on our family would lead to unity and understanding … but I was naïve," she said.
"Since then I have had to deal with the dark hatred that has only increased in the public discourse. And that fire, which consumes everything good, is fed by unbridled incitement, the same incitement that created an environment in which it was possible to shoot a prime minister."
"I am not the bearer of good news on this day," Rabin said. "There's no political process but there is terror. Blood is again being spilled and animosity is growing. I have no other country and my country has changed its countenance."
The national memorial ceremony for Yitzhak Rabin will be held on Saturday night at 8:00 P.M at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. The speakers will include Rivlin and former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
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