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National leaders gathered at Mount Herzl cemetery yesterday to mark the 12th anniversary of the assassination of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

"The writing was on the wall, but we didn't see it," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at the official ceremony at Rabin's tomb. "Israel's hope for peace will not be stopped by the bullets of a vile assassin."

The right-wing religious extremist Yigal Amir shot Rabin in the back at the end of a peace rally in Tel Aviv's central square on November 4, 1995. President Shimon Peres said Amir had failed in his goal of derailing the peace process with the Palestinians, which was now being renewed.

"We were a strong people, we remain a strong people, stronger than any shock or crisis," said Peres, who was foreign minister at the time of the assassination and had left the rally just ahead of Rabin.

Following yesterday's ceremony, the Knesset plenum convened for a special memorial meeting. Olmert dedicated his address to linking Rabin's path toward peace to the path he himself has undertaken. He spoke about the suffering of the Palestinian people, saying "it must be said that the opposite side has also experienced pain, loss and distress. We must recognize the pain of the Palestinians." Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik harshly criticized the family of Rabin's assassin, Amir.

"We have called this despicable man a stray weed, but we were wrong," she said. "This terrible man's roots, and the origins of his evil, lie firmly within his family, which supports his his actions."

Opposition leader and Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu set out to prove that Rabin's legacy included strong opposition to the division of Jerusalem. He said that he chose to focus on this topic in order to "point this out to those who claim they are followers of Rabin's way, yet call for the division of Israel."