The government must stand up for its principles and ensure a strong IDF, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at a Knesset meeting marking the 18th anniversary of the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
“Our strength is the guarantee for our existence and peace. We do not want an Iranian offshoot in Judea and Samaria. This requires a security border in the Jordan Valley, as Rabin said in his last speech,” Netanyahu said on Wednesday.“This is even more relevant today, when Iran’s representatives took over territory we evacuated in Lebanon and Gaza,” he added.The prime minister spoke a day after Ma’ariv reported that peace talks were stuck on the issue of an IDF presence in the Jordan Valley, which the Palestinians oppose. Israel is refusing to budge on the matter.“We prefer the current situation over a demilitarized state in a closed cage,” Ma’ariv columnist Shalom Yerushalmi quoted a Palestinian official as saying.Speaking in the Knesset, with Rabin’s children and grandchildren present after a ceremony at his grave on Mount Herzl, Netanyahu pointed to the IDF’s power as essential for the country’s long-term survival.“The government stands up for its principles. It’s important that we have the tools to defend our country. Rabin acted to insure the strength of the IDF to ensure our future. Without the IDF, our fate would be like that of our nation in the Diaspora,” the prime minister said.“The IDF stands between us and destruction, even when there are peace agreements,” he stated.There would be no pardon for Rabin’s murderer, Yigal Amir, and he never should be pardoned, Netanyahu said.“We learned our lesson, not to have wars and murderers between us. Our leaders knew that this should not happen. That is why we were so shocked [by the assassination]. It is a warning sign that we must hold in front of the nation,” the prime minister said.Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein spoke of the importance of educating against violence.“We cannot make the mistake of romanticism, of saying, ‘It won’t happen to us,’” Edelstein said. “We have to prepare the forces to deal with violence on a practical level, immediately. We must explain again and again that violence is not a shortcut. We have to teach adults, youth and children that political violence is an injustice, that it is stupid to take the law into your own hands.”Edelstein acknowledged that he did not share Rabin’s political opinions. But he said the lesson from the assassination was that democracy and political discourse must be strengthened, and that the Knesset had an important role to play in reinforcing those values.Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich also emphasized the importance of democratic values.“Ideological debate is the air that democracy breathes, but some things are not controversial. Rabin was murdered for executing the policy for which he was democratically elected to lead. He did not surprise his voters; he did exactly what he promised. That’s why he was elected and that’s why he was murdered,” Yacimovich said.To heal the wounds to democracy, we must remember the violent atmosphere preceding the assassination, she added.“We didn’t know then to what depths we would sink, how demonstrations, which a democracy must allow, became legitimization of murder,” she said.The lesson the Labor Party chairwoman learned from this is the importance of political participation, that “it is not enough to elect a leader every few years and then politically go to sleep. The ‘street’ cannot be left to the extreme fringes. Our job is to protect our leaders and be on the street to prevent it from being looted by extremists.”