Clinton: Rabin assassination foiled Mideast peace deal
Ex-Shin Bet chief: Rabin family hijacked memory; Rabin's sister says 10 years on, Israel worse off.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said he believes the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin prevented the Israelis and the Palestinians from eventually reaching a final settlement.
In an interview with Channel 2 broadcast on Friday, Clinton said the Middle East would be a far different place if Rabin was still alive.
"I believe if he would not have been assassinated there would have been a comprehensive peace deal, both Israelis and Palestinians would have been working together," Clinton told Channel 2 television. "By this time, we would have been in a different Middle East, more prosperity and less violence."
Clinton is expected to attend the central public commemoration ceremony to be held on November 12 in Rabin Square, sponsored by the Yitzhak Rabin Center. The ceremony, with the participation of performers, is expected to draw a crowd of thousands.
The Yitzak Rabin Center will be inaugurated on November 14 in Tel Aviv, in the presence of Clinton, his wife Senator Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and so far 17 delegations from around the world, including several foreign ministers.
As Israel marked the tenth anniversary of the assassination, a former head of the Shin Bet security service on Friday blasted the Rabin family for hijacking the identity of the slain premier.
Speaking during a ceremony in the square in which Rabin was shot dead by a right-wing extremist at a peace rally on November 4, 1995, Ami Ayalon said that the family had commandeered the memory of a public figure and kept him as a private persona, and warned that without a state foundation for Rabin in Israel, most of the public were alienated from the slain leader and his memory.
Meanwhile, Rabin's sister, Rachel Ya'akov, said Friday that 10 years after the assassination of her brother, Israeli society was much worse off than it was before his death.
"We didn't learn any lessons," she told Haaretz during a graveside ceremony Friday attended by friends, family and Labor Party politicians.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw paid tribute to Rabin on Friday, saying that today's peace efforts are a continuation of a process begun by Rabin.
"As Prime Minister, [Rabin] made difficult and courageous decisions in his search for peace and was undaunted by the many obstacles he faced," Straw said in a statement. "Although Yitzhak Rabin was prevented from seeing his efforts bear fruit, he set in motion a process which, despite setbacks, continues today."
"We must all continue our efforts to build on the opportunities which we now have, and work towards the internationally shared goal of an Israeli state and a viable and democratic Palestinian state living side by side in peace," said Straw.
To read about the impact Rabin's assassination has had on Israel, click here.
Retired Supreme Court justice Eliahu Mazza said Friday that, despite a plethora of conspiracy theories, there is no doubt that Yigal Amir was Rabin's killer.
"I am aware of all the various and sundry conspiracy theories but I don't know how this reduces the burden of guilt carried by Amir that - in my opinion - is clear and well proven," Mazza said.
Mazza is of the opinion that rabbis authorized Amir to carry out the assassination of Rabin.
"During his interrogation by the Shin Bet, Amir quite clearly said that 'without religious rulings applying to Rabin, I would have had difficulties murdering. Such a murder needs to be backed up. If I didn't have support and if large numbers of people were not backing me up, I would not have acted,'" Mazza quoted Amir as saying.
President Moshe Katsav vowed Thursday that he would never grant a pardon to Amir. He was speaking at a ceremony opening the commemoration of Rabin's death, which began with the lighting of the memorial "Yitzhak Candle" at the president's residence in Jerusalem.
"I will not commute [Amir's] punishment and I will recommend that those who succeed me also deny him pardon," Katsav said. "Amir is a villain. He shall not be pardoned; there is no cause for compassion or pity."
Rabin's family members attended the ceremony, as did Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and Supreme Court President Aharon Barak.
An exhibit of posters in memory of Rabin by students at the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design also opened Thursday.
The Gesher association organized a meeting in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv of Orthodox and secular high school students to discuss the tensions in Israeli society. The square was also the scene of an exhibit of 1,000 black balloons that formed the number 10.
Hundreds of students from Tel Aviv's A.D. Gordon high school marked the anniversary for the third consecutive year with a march Thursday night from Atarim Square to Rabin Square.
Other events will be held later in the month.
Beginning on November 15, the Hankin Campus of the Holon Theater will host the opening of a permanent exhibit by artist Dan Kadar, including 12 paintings with political, religious and technological motifs. Israel Prize laureate and educator Lova Eliav and Holon Mayor Motti Sasson are expected to attend the opening.