The Knesset session in memory of Yitzhak Rabin Sunday brought up a debate
reminiscent of the former prime minister’s day.
Knesset Speaker Reuven
Rivlin proclaimed the two-state solution dead and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz,
Labor chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich and Defense Minister Ehud Barak touted its
“Today, almost 20 years after Oslo, we can see clearly that the
idea of separating the [Israeli and Palestinian] nations failed,” Rivlin said.
“Neither nation was convinced of it, and no long-term diplomatic solution was
According to the Knesset speaker, those who still believe in
two states for two nations are in denial about current realities. He added that
there can be only one state between Jordan and the Mediterranean, which will be
Jewish, democratic and have a Jewish majority.
“Since my childhood, in
1948, we have been able to deal with the demographic threat, but in the
ridiculous attempts to split the land we have failed time and again,” he
Rivlin pointed to coexistence between Jews and Arabs on both sides
of the Green Line, such as in the University of Haifa, the Hebrew University and
the Ariel University Center.
The Knesset speaker concluded his speech by
saying he appreciates Rabin as a visionary who worked to ensure Israel’s
continued existence, and the former prime minister will be remembered as a
“leader, a dreamer and a fighter for the freedom of Israel.”
All of the
speakers following Rivlin denounced his speech, except for Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu who did not overtly express his opinion on the matter, saying
that he and Rabin disagreed on many issues, but “even if our political rivals do
not agree with us, it does not mean they care less about the
However, he mentioned that while Israel “does not want to rule
[the Palestinians] and we do not want them to rule us, in the past 17 years
[since the Oslo Accords], any territories we left were captured by Iran’s
Barak took a jab at Rivlin in his speech, saying: “I’m
speaking bluntly now, but I would hope that at this memorial ceremony for
Yitzhak Rabin would not be a victim of the approaching election or the primary
of a big party – as big and important as it may be.”
The defense minister said Rabin’s legacy says only two states will ensure the
continuation of the Zionist enterprise.
“I am convinced that Ruby
[Reuven] Rivlin, our Knesset speaker, believes in democracy, and I suggest he
ask himself what will happen when millions of citizens in Nablus, Jenin and
Jericho vote for this house, or what name the State of Israel will get if it
turns out that millions of those people cannot vote for the Knesset,” Barak
said, adding that Netanyahu spoke in favor of a two-state solution in his
Bar-Ilan University speech in June 2009, in the Knesset and in the
Yacimovich addressed Rivlin directly when she took the stand, saying
she changed her speech after hearing his “extremist performance that sent us
into a regression.”
“The Israeli public doesn’t want the vision you
presented. They aren’t interested in it. There is almost no person in Israel who
wants to live in a binational state. Who is willing to give up the Zionist
vision?” she asked.
According to Yacimovich, those who have given up on
the two-state solution are extremists on the Left and Right and are a danger to
The Labor leader also called it regressive to focus on the issue
of borders, because Israelis are interested in what happens within the
She commended Rabin for passing a capital gains tax as prime
minister, as well as his efforts to “fairly distribute resources” and increase
Mofaz said that without a diplomatic process leading to two
states for two nations, the “dream of a Jewish, Zionist state in the Land of
Israel will come to an end.”
The Kadima chairman pointed to “price-tag”
vandalism as anti-democratic activity reminiscent of the incitement against the
government in Rabin’s day.
Mofaz accused “the heads of the party we
learned about a few days ago,” meaning the united Likud- Yisrael Beytenu list,
of encouraging such behavior, adding that it was “born of weakness and fear.”
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