Netanyahu takes on incitement accusations at Rabin memorial

Yuval Rabin warns of violent rhetoric like before his father’s assassination.

Benjamin Netanyahu speaks on the anniversary of the death of Yitzhak Rabin. (photo credit: GPO PHOTO DEPARTMENT)
Benjamin Netanyahu speaks on the anniversary of the death of Yitzhak Rabin.
(photo credit: GPO PHOTO DEPARTMENT)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back against accusations levied by Yuval Rabin on Wednesday that he played a role in incitement before prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination and continues to do so today.
Speaking at his father’s grave on Mount Herzl on the anniversary of the murder, Yuval Rabin called on Netanyahu to make a clear statement against incitement, violence and hatred and “stop the madness.”
Rabin lamented “a mechanism acting against Yitzhak Rabin, a mechanism of incitement and divisiveness that continues to strike us.”
Referring to the current political climate, he said that “all those who think differently are labeled as traitors.”
“Rabin was not coddled by the High Court or by NGOs... or the media, but he did not run away from responsibility or whine,” Rabin said.
Netanyahu accepted Yuval Rabin’s challenge, saying in his speech soon after, at a special Knesset meeting in Rabin’s memory: “I call for national reconciliation and unity around the principles on which most of us agree.”
“You’d be surprised, Yuval, I understand your pain at the wave of smears and slander against your father,” he said. “You turned to me, and I am responding... in light of your touching call, I repeat this message with full force, and I call to unite.”
Rabin’s assassination introduced Israel to a challenge it had not yet faced, Netanyahu said, adding: “We have the responsibility to prevent acts of zealotry and violence that can lead to self-destruction... National decisions are made at the ballot and not anywhere else. Those are solid principles on which most Israeli citizens can unite.”
Netanyahu directly responded to accusations many on the Left have made in relation to his behavior while Rabin was prime minister, when Netanyahu was opposition leader and spoke out strongly against the Oslo Accords.
“When Rabin brought up the Oslo Accords, he was acting according to his judgment of what was for the good of Israel,” he said. “I said more than once, ‘He’s mistaken, but he’s not a traitor.’” In fact, Netanyahu said, he had a great appreciation for Rabin, and there were things that they agreed on, such as peace with Jordan and electoral reform that the Knesset passed at the time.
The prime minister said he believes that, unlike in the days of the Oslo Accords, there is a broad consensus in Israel about certain diplomatic interests, specifically mentioning the fight against radical Islamic terrorism.
“In this curse of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and changes in the Middle East... we have growing ties with countries in the region, and this gives real foundations for strengthening our security and hope for peace,” Netanyahu said.
Hagay Hacohen contributed to this report.