Netanyahu at Rabin Memorial: He Recognized That Many Palestinians Don’t Want Peace

President Rivlin: I hope next year the entire state will commemorate Yitzhak Rabin in a single event.

Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin at the memorial service for Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on Jerusalem's Mount Herzl, Nov. 13, 2016.
Olivier Fitoussi

The official memorial service for Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was held on Sunday — Heshvan 12, the Hebrew date of his assassination — as it is every year on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl. It was followed by a special session of the Knesset plenum. Rabin was murdered in Tel Aviv on November 4, 1995.

The Mount Herzl service was attended by President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis, Knesset members from both the left and right of Israel’s political spectrum, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and members of the Rabin family.

“The scar from the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin will ensure for generations and will not be erased,” Netanyahu said at the Mount Herzl ceremony.

The prime minister went on to say that Rabin had spoken of the threat posed by radical Islam to Israel and the entire free world, and even quoted remarks made by Rabin to then-U.S. President Bill Clinton. “Rabin sought peace,” Netanyahu said, “but he recognized the unwillingness of a significant part of the Palestinians to make peace.”

He also said: “I expressed a fear that the story of Rabin’s life would always be marked by his tragic end, because there has been no more heinous murder in our nation since that of Gedalia Ben Ahikam [after the destruction of the First Temple].

Speaking at the special Knesset session, Netanyahu said, “To my regret, Palestinian society continues to this day to celebrate murderers. The grave incitement against Jews and Israel continues. Terror organizations repeatedly assert their intention of destroying Israel. They have a clear objective of returning to Jaffa, Haifa and Acre.”

“We too, like Rabin are stretching out a hand to peace without preconditions, time after time,” added Netanyahu. We are standing alongside them against attempts to force international agreements on us that will only prevent peace.”

President Reuven Rivlin said at Mount Herzl: “Since that terrible evening one main question should preoccupy us: As a nation and a society, how will we ensure that Rabin’s assassination was a one-time event? How will we ensure that no one will ever raise a hand against one of us? I feel that it doesn’t add honor to Rabin’s supporters or his opponents when we are unable to hold a single memorial in his memory. I hope that next year the entire State of Israel will remember Yitzhak at a single memorial service.”

Dalia Rabin-Pelossof, Rabin’s daughter, said at the ceremony: “We’re not the ones who should read the writing on the wall. It’s your responsibility, those of you who are sitting here.”

Opposition leader and Labor Party Chairman Isaac Herzog, speaking in the special Knesset session, addressed Netanyahu directly. Herzog said the election last week of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States has clarified the choices now faced by the prime minister. “Ostensibly no more pressure for concessions and withdrawals and no more demand to realize the two-state vision.”

Habayit Hayehudi MKs Bezalel Smotrich and Uri Ariel left the hall during Herzog’s speech.

After Herzog spoke, Education Minister Naftali Bennett caused an uproar when he attacked Herzog. “I planned to give a different speech. What you did is just the opposite of leadership, we can and should disagree, what you’re trying to do is destroy half the State of Israel and blame the other half. You want to silence us.” The Knesset speaker threatened to adjourn the session on account of the ensuing commotion, but did not.

On Saturday, Netanyahu rejected claims that he had engaged in incitement against Rabin before the assassination, posting a video on his Facebook page with examples that he said demonstrated that he had condemned such acts.