Yitzhak Rabin's Assassination Had 'No Historical Influence,' Knesset Speaker Says

Yuli Edelstein criticizes speech by Meretz chairwoman Tamar Zandberg, who called the murder 'the best political assassination in history'

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein stands next to Rabin's grave in Jerusalem, October 2018.
Marc Israel Sellem

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said Sunday that the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had "no historical influence." In an interview on Israel's Army Radio, Edelstein said that if the murder "achieved goals, then they were the opposite goals of what that heinous killer intended to achieve."

Addressing the memorial ceremony for Rabin held in Tel Aviv on Saturday, Edelstein said: "When they speak at the rally that the political killing was very successful, that Yigal Amir succeeded in his mission, what is that if not the encouragement of political violence?"

He added that he hopes "a day will come, and not decades from now, when we'll understand the only conclusion from all that's happened is that we need all of us together, in the right and left and the center, not to blur political opinions, to continue the discourse."

After the interview, Edelstein's office released a statement saying: "The murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was a terrible tragedy to his family and friends, and a difficult shock visited upon the State of Israel. In his words, the Knesset speaker claimed the vile murder did not aid Yigal Amir attain the political result he hoped to achieve. On the contrary, in his act he prolonged the days of the Oslo Accords, which were destined to fail from the outset."

Responding to the statement, Meretz chairwoman Tamar Zandberg said "Rabin's murder diverted Israel from its course and stopped the peace process. That's what it was meant for, and in that it succeeded. Any attempt to deny [this] is part of the avoidance and failure to take responsibility for the atmosphere that led to the murder. Edelstein's response disgraces his stately role and proves that not only then, but also today, the right has learned nothing and hasn't changed a thing."

On Saturday, Zandberg said during the rally that Rabin's assassination was "the best political assassination in history." If this evening doesn't get us to act, then Yigal Amir will keep smiling for another year, she said in reference to Rabin's murderer. 

"When Netanyahu rode the wave of incitement in 1995, he thought he might be able to control it, but today he turned incitement into a central tool to keep the peace camp submissive, controlled and shattered. He uses it to make sure that the legacy of his murder remains intact - that is, that the legacy of peace will remain deep in the grave," she said.

In her speech, opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) said: "History repeats itself. It is enough to read the prime minister's posts, to watch the videos, to listen to the speeches, to read the violent talkbacks, and to blame anyone who thinks otherwise. Whoever is working for peace is not a traitor, it was true then and it is true today."