Israeli Channel to Broadcast Remarks by Rabin's Assassin

The slated broadcast of the remarks, apparently made to Amir's associates, follow the appearance last month on the station of a man convicted of an arson attack on an Arab-Jewish school

Yigal Amir in court in 2010.
Tomer Neuberg

An Israeli television channel has sparked controversy by announcing that it would broadcast videotaped remarks on Sunday by Yigal Amir, the convicted assassin of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

According to Channel 20's website, in his comments to personal associates, Amir spoke about the assassination and said: “I don’t regret it. If I regretted it, I would get a lot." If he were to express regret, Amir reportedly said, he had been offered a wedding ceremony and conjugal visits.

"The simplest thing is to say ‘so-and-so incited me,’ [to kill Rabin], ‘that so-and-so dispatched me, but I didn’t consult with anyone; not rabbis, not officers and not Avishai Raviv," Amir reportedly said, referring to a Shin Bet agent who was working undercover among right-wing activists around the time of the 1995 assassination. "Raviv was...a problematic personality. He is not a person who can influence anything. The whole story that the Shin Bet influenced [me] is foolishness.”

According to the website of Channel 20, which bills its programming as "Zionist and pro-Israeli" and is due to broadcast the comments at 7 P.M. on Sunday, Amir added: “This is the left wing tainting the doormat right. All along the way, I have said that I did this on my own and that nobody sent me — and only because of the silence at the time, to stop Oslo,” a reference to the peace process with the Palestinians that was underway  when Amir assassinated the prime minister.

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“I wasn’t even a settler. I stopped the establishment of a Palestinian state,” Amir declared, according to Channel 20 .

In an apparent attempt to reduce criticism of the station, which also recently took heat for hosting Yitzhak Gabai, convicted of an arson attack at an Arab-Jewish bilingual school in Jerusalem, the Channel 20 website noted that it “condemns and takes exception to the vile murder of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.”

In the past, Channel 2 News and Channel 10 News conducted an interview with Amir, but broadcast of the interview was scrapped at the last moment.

In response to the scheduled airing of Amir's comments on Channel 20, the Israel Prison Service said: “In light of the reports regarding an interview to be made public with prisoner Yigal Amir, the prisoner was interviewed this morning by the commander of the wing in Rimonim prison where he is being held in solitary confinement. The prisoner denies the reports regarding an interview he gave and said he does not intend to be interviewed.” According to the prison service, “Yigal Amir has access to a telephone, a lawyer and family visits. It is unlikely that a camera was brought in without our knowledge.”

On the Channel 20 program last month with Yitzhak Gabai, the school arsonist, Gabai said: “I don’t regret setting fire to the school. I regret that I sat in jail, but I have paid the price.”

That sparked protests from many quarters on social media, including right-wing figures and people who have worked at the station.

The Second Television and Radio Authority said it would take action against the station, and the following day, the station’s editors apologized for the interview, which had been light-hearted in tone. They acknowledged that it had “exceeded all acceptable norms.”

Last week, Channel 20 was fined 100,000 shekels ($26,800) for refusing to feature Reform and Conservative Jews on the station, in violation of the terms of its broadcast license.