Knesset Speaker at Rabin Memorial Session: Oslo 'Failed'

Speaking at a Knesset session marking 17 years since the assassination of PM Yitzhak Rabin, Reuven Rivlin said two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians a denial of the reality of our lives here.

Knesset speaker Reuven "Ruby" Rivlin came out against slain PM Yitzhak Rabin's vision of peace at a plenum marking 17 years since the anniversary of his death, saying that "the concept of the Oslo Accords failed."

Addressing the Knesset memorial session, Rivlin attacked the initiative of two states for two people, antagonizing members of Knesset from the center-left bloc who were in attendance.  

"Today, almost twenty years since Oslo, one could clearly argue that the idea of separating between the nations has failed. It never managed to settle in the hearts of the two nations, and did not ripen into long-term political solution," the Knesset speaker said.

He added that this was a denial "of the reality of our lives here. Between the Jordan river and the sea, there can only be one state, Jewish and democratic, with a solid Jewish majority. We failed in the absurd attempt to divide this country time and time again."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who addressed the plenum after Rivlin, accused him of causing a provocation for the sake of the Likud primaries.

"I am convinced that our chair Rivlin is a democrat, and I suggest that he asks himself what will happen when millions of citizens in Nablus, Jenin and Jericho vote for the Knesset, or the name that will be given to what happens in Israel when it turns out that millions of people like these cannot vote for the Knesset."

The head of Israel's Labor Party, Shelly Yacimovich, decided to abandon parts of her pre-written speech in order to respond to Rivlin's comments.

"There is almost no one in Israel that wants to live in a bi-national state," she said, adding that Rivlin's remarks were "not even consistent with the Likud or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu."

"Which citizens are willing to give up the Zionist vision of a Jewish and democratic state? Will there be a Jewish majority here? Will there be people here who are eligible to vote, and people who aren't? How will we preserve our character as a state?" 

"The solution of a 'bi-national state' sounds, unfortunately, even on the radical fringes of the left and also on the extreme fringes of the right. To hear this from you Ruby (Rivlin) is hard to take. This position is so dangerous for the Jewish state," Yacimovich said.