Olmert praises decision to pull TV interview with Rabin killer
Following uproar, TV channels pull interview where Amir says how idea to kill PM Rabin came about.
Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert praised the decision by Israeli TV channels to not air an interview with Yigal Amir, the rightist who assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.
The broadcasting of excerpts from the interview on Thursday raised such an uproar that Channels Two and Ten decided to pull the rest of the program, which was scheduled to air on Friday evening.
"The airing of the interviews would hurt the feelings of the general public, especially now on the eve of the memorial day for Yitzhak Rabin," Olmert said. "One can only regret the exaggerated and redundant preoccupation with the murderer instead of with the murdered, Yitzhak Rabin, and his memory and legacy."
Excerpts from the interview were aired on Thursday evening on Channel 10 and Channel Two.
The promo for the interview raised a slew of public criticism. First, Channel Two's concessionaire Reshet called up the station and requested that the broadcast be pulled.
Sources at Channel Two said that representatives of the Rabin family and the Second Broadcasting Authority also issued a complaint against the piece.
In the end, Channel Two News Director Avi Weiss decided to pull the two and a half minute interview in its entirety. Channel 10 later Friday decided to follow suit.
The broadcast was likely to awaken further criticism, and it was possible that the Second Broadcasting Authority would even have issued a condemnation along with a request to viewers not to tune in.
Yigal Amir describes how idea to murder Rabin came about
In the interview, Amir spoke about how the idea to commit the murder initially came about.
He that he was at a wedding, which was also attended by Rabin, and realized that the prime minister was protected by only one bodyguard.
"If I were to shake his hand, I could have easily shot him, if I had wanted to," Amir told Channel 10. "I was inside with a gun. I saw that it was so easy, and told myself that in several years I would regret not having killed him."
When asked who influenced his decision to commit the murder, Amir said "all those that understand the military," specifically naming former prime minister Ariel Sharon, former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff and cabinet minister Refael Eitan (Raful), and slain extreme right-wing MK Rehavam Ze'evi.
"All the military experts said that the Oslo Accord was a disaster," Amir said, referring to the 1993 deal between Israel and the Palestinians which was signed by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Rabin.
Amir never given permission for interview
The Israel Prisons Service was shocked to learn, on Israel's two main commercial television channels, that Amir had given phone interviews to both networks from prison. Amir was never given permission to conduct the interviews.
Amir's privileges were revoked after Channel 10 aired excerpts from the interview, among them phone privileges, until further notice. The fact that Amir was able to conduct the interviews without the knowledge of the Israel Prisons Service proves that Amir's telephone conversations are not being monitored, as they have been in the past.
Last August, Amir used the prison's phone to issue threats against his wife's neighbor following a dispute between the neighbors over a burst pipe. In the past, the IPS has closely monitored the content of the phone calls made by Amir, and his brother Hagai who is also serving a prison sentence for conspiracy to commit murder. Several years ago, Hagai Amir's phone privileges were revoked and he was sentenced to another year in prison after saying to prison guards "I can have the prime minister blown up with one phone call."