Israel on Sunday held its annual official memorial ceremony for the anniversary of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, as the nation’s top politicians gathered at the Great Leaders of the Nation burial plot at the cemetery on Mount Herzl.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked stood alongside numerous lawmakers, the Supreme Court’s chief justice, the country’s chief rabbi, the military chief of staff, and members of the Rabin family.
“The scar from the murder of Yitzhak Rabin will remain for generations and will not be erased,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said at the ceremony.
The prime minister added that “Rabin referred to the threat of radical Islam to us and to the entire free world” and that the leader remembered as a peacemaker “strove for peace, but he recognized the unwillingness of a large portion of Palestinians to make peace.”
Netanyahu, who has over the two decades since the assassination been criticized by the left for insufficiently condemning violent incitement against Rabin when he served as opposition chief before his death, also presented a video compiling clips of him condemning the rhetoric.
“Here are a few examples of the unequivocal condemnations I made of the hate speech directed at the prime minister,” he said. “Judge for yourselves.”
Among the clips was one of a speech from April of 1995, seven months before the murder, in which Netanyahu said Rabin was not a traitor but merely making a big mistake, adding that there was a disagreement “with political opponents, not enemies.”
On Saturday, Netanyahu said the killing was a “shocking political murder that we all condemn” in an apparent reaction to a remark by a member of his party that the murder was not political.
Coalition chairman David Bitan had said that it “was not a political murder and it wasn’t about politicians, but rather was a murder committed by a person who wanted to end a process.”
In a Facebook post referring to the assassination as a political murder, Netanyahu also posted a video with clips of speeches that he made in the period leading up to Rabin’s murder in which he can be seen telling his supporters slogans such as “Rabin is a political rival, but he is not the enemy.”