Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday rejected accusations that he had engaged in incitement against Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin prior to his assassination in 1995.
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The prime minister posted video on Facebook with examples that he said demonstrated that he had condemned incitement against Rabin.
"Since the murder, there have been continuous attempts to distort the historical truth and to blame me for the incitement that preceded the murder," Netanyahu wrote. "Here are several examples of the decisive remarks that I made condemning statements of contempt directed at the prime minister. Judge for yourself."
In one part of the video, marked as a “speech at an election rally in the Golan Heights, April 1995 (7 months before assassination)” Netanyahu says in reference to Rabin: “He’s not a traitor. He’s mistaken. He’s greatly mistaken, and he will make way (for others), but he not a traitor. No, no. We have an issue here with political rivals, not with enemies. We are one people.”
In another part, marked “Interview on Channel 2 in August 1995 (3 months before assassination)” he says: “Comments like these directed at the prime minister are directed at the prime minister of Israel. It doesn’t matter which party he is from. He is the prime minister of Israel. It’s not appropriate. It’s not proper. It’s not moral. I am simply telling these people to desist from this, because we will all condemn it.”
Responding to Netanyahu's Facebook post, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak took to Twitter to say: "Bibi is not guilty of Rabin's murder, but he was and remains the chief inciter." Barak then cited examples from 1995 and the recent past of what he claimed is Netanyahu's inflammatory rhetoric.
Zionist Union co-leader Tzipi Livni responded as well. "Why hark back to 1995, let's talk about the here and now. About the connection you're making between outside enemies and enemies from within, with hints and expressions, in election propaganda. It has to stop."
In his Facebook post, Netanyahu called Rabin's assassination "a shocking political murder that all of us condemn," an apparent effort by the prime minister to disassociate himself from public comments made a week ago by coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) claiming that the assassination, which was carried out by a right-wing law student, Yigal Amir, was not in fact a political killing.
Bitan also told his audience in a Tel Aviv suburb that he would not participate in a Tel Aviv rally sponsored by the opposition Zionist Union Knesset faction a week ago in part "because they are trying to portray it as if politicians murdered [Rabin]." Bitan said the commemoration in Rabin's memory should be state-sponsored following on a cabinet resolution authorizing it.