The annual memorial ceremony held for former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has been cancelled for the first time in the 21 years since his assassination, Israel’s Channel 2 news reports.
After hearing of the cancellation, though, Leader of the Opposition Isaac Herzog came out with a statement of his own, saying the Labor Party, which he heads, will take on the memorial.
“We, the Labor party, will organize an alternative rally,” read the statement. “It should also be noted that the rally was always the responsibility of private and external bodies, but that since this involves the murder of our leader, former Labor leader Yitzhak Rabin, we insist on conducting an alternative rally, taking into account the time constraints and conditions.”
According to Channel 2 report, the rally held yearly in Tel Aviv in early November, at the square named after the former Prime Minister and location where he was shot, has been nixed because organizers were unable to raise the funds necessary to cover the cost of the event.
Tens of thousands traditionally gather for the yearly memorial at Rabin Square, in the heart of Tel Aviv, featuring speeches by politicians as well as tributes by Israeli artists and peace activists.
Channel 2 reported that the organizers had gained the necessary permits, and a number of public figures and artists had expressed willingness to speak and appear at the rally on a voluntary basis, but it was not enough.
Brigadier General Asaf Agmon, one of the organizers told Channel 2 that “I took it upon myself to try to hold the rally, including to raise the necessary budget for it.”
“But unfortunately, we are forced to cancel the main rally in memory of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, after there were not enough donors will finance the cost of the event.”
“This is a stain in Israel’s history,” he added.
Rabin was shot on November 4, 1995, while attending a peace rally in support of the Oslo Accords.
His assassin, a Jewish religious right wing zealot named Yigal Amir, shot Rabin following months of brutal incitement against the Israeli prime minister after he signed Oslo accords with then leader of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat.
Last year, at the ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of Rabin’s death, Former United States president Bill Clinton was the guest of honor.
“Rabin defended the country and advanced the values of Israel.” he said. “He stood for peace and the preservation of democracy.”
“He risked his life to create and defend Israel,” the former US president said. Addressing the crowd, Clinton added: “He gave his life so that you could live in peace.”
Current US President Obama also addressed the crowd in a video message broadcast on large screens placed throughout the square.