A POSTER of late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin on a wall near his memorial in Tel Aviv..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
As Israelis prepare to gather Saturday night in Tel Aviv to attend a memorial ceremony in honor of late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated 21 years ago yesterday, coalition chairman MK David Bitan (Likud) stated that his killing was not a "political murder."
"I will not attend the rally tonight [Saturday] in memory of Yitzhak Rabin, it was not a political murder, politicians did not murder him," Bitan said at an event in Holon hours before the ceremony.
"They're trying to make it out as if politicians murdered him."
(Coalition Chairman Likud MK David Bitan)
Rabin was assassinated on Nov. 4, 1995 following a pro-peace rally at a plaza in central Tel Aviv now known as Rabin Square. His assassin, Jewish extremist Yigal Amir, opposed Rabin’s goal of Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Deputy Knesset Speaker Hilik Bar (Zionist Union) responded to Bitan, saying that one does not need to be the coalition chairman in order to understand that Rabin's murder was clearly political.
"The murder was preceded by organized incitement, hatred, persecution from the extreme Right, marking targets" and accusing the political Left of "treason," stated Bar.
"That same hatred, persecution and incitement exists today, against journalists, judges, officers and all those who think differently than the government," he continued.
"For this reason we need to gather at Rabin square to fight for democracy."
Zionist Union MK Erel Marglit also said that this was an example of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempting to change the facts of history.
"No one can erase the rally of incitement in Zion Square, where Netanyahu was a keynote speaker, as the crowd chanted that Rabin was a traitor," stated Marglit.
MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union) stated that anyone trying to rewrite history would receive their answer at the rally Saturday night.
"Rabin's murder was the epitome of a political assassination," stated Shai. "There's no more to it. "
"The battle over Oslo was decided in three gun shots, yet the vision of peace is still alive."
A memorial ceremony has been held each year in Rabin Square on the Saturday night closest to the date of the assassination, bringing together tens of thousands of Israelis to remember Rabin’s legacy and call for peace with the Palestinians. In recent years, the memorial ceremony was sponsored by the coalition Remembering the Murder – Fighting for Democracy, led by youth groups and social organizations.
This year, due to a lack of funds, Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog announced that the Zionist Union party would be sponsoring the memorial.JTA contributed to this article.