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President Moshe Katsav declared on Thursday that there was "no forgiveness, no absolution and no pardon" for Yigal Amir, the assassin of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Katsav said Amir "has no right to clemency," adding that there was no reason to feel pity for him. Katsav said he would recommend to the next president not to allow the subject of a reduced sentence for Amir to come up for consideration.
Katsav was speaking at the President's Conference on Israeli Democracy.
He deplored the fact that instead of Rabin Memorial Day evolving into a day of national consensus, each year the commemorations generated more controversy.
Inevitably there was a dispute over whether Amir was entitled to some form of leniency and whether he had acted alone, he said. There were also debates as to how many people identified with Amir and how many condemned him; whether or not there was a Rabin legacy; why the state ceremony was conducted in accordance with the Hebrew calendar; and other issues that had no common denominator.
"Rabin Memorial Day should be one of consensus in which we all put our differences aside," Katsav said.
It also bothered him that there was more discussion on the merits, or otherwise, of the Oslo accords rather than on the assassination itself.
He would prefer to hear a debate on the permissible limits of protest or what Halacha (Jewish law) says about the murder of the leader of a nation, he said.
Dalia Rabin-Pelosoff, the slain premier's daughter, described her father as "a man before his time."
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin spoke about "sectoral democracy" and implied that the Left had taken democracy as its own province and, even now, acknowledged only those who believed in the Oslo process as having the license to mourn the late prime minister. Rivlin declared that he had liked Rabin as a person even though he may have disagreed with his views.
"It is not only my obligation to weep and not forget," he said, "it is also my right."
Supreme Court President Aharon Barak said the assassination of the prime minister had caused grave harm to Israel's democracy. In outlining his definition of democracy, Barak said it was, first and foremost, human rights. "Democracy is not just majority rule, but also the rights of the individual. If we do not defend democracy, democracy will not defend us."
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