PM implies he's left of Rabin on Palestinian statehood

At Knesset ceremony for slain leader, Netanyahu points out that no predecessor froze settlement construction.

netanyahu flag 311 (photo credit: AP)
netanyahu flag 311
(photo credit: AP)
Former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin opposed creating a Palestinian state, relinquishing the Jordan Valley, dividing Jerusalem, evacuating settlements and freezing natural growth in Judea and Samaria, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in a speech Wednesday at a Knesset ceremony marking the fifteenth anniversary of Rabin’s assassination.
Netanyahu’s associates said the speech was aimed at Labor Party ministers who have criticized him for not going far enough to advance negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and who have threatened to leave the government.
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The prime minister quoted extensively from the last speech Rabin delivered at the Knesset in October 1995, a month before he was gunned down.
“We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority,” said Rabin, as quoted by Netanyahu. “The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June, 1967 lines. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.
“Jerusalem would be united as the capital of Israel under Israeli sovereignty and will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev,” Netanyahu said Rabin had added. “We came to an agreement, and committed ourselves before the Knesset, not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim agreement, and not to hinder building for natural growth.”
Speaking for himself now, Netanyahu noted that, unlike Rabin, who refused to freeze settlement construction, he had instituted an unprecedented temporary moratorium. He said Rabin’s words were an additional confirmation of this observation.
“Construction in existing communities in Judea and Samaria does not contradict the aspiration for peace and an agreement,” he said.
Netanyahu also pointed out that while Rabin spoke of “less than a state” for the Palestinians, he was advocating “a demilitarized state” as long as it recognized the state of the Jewish people.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin also focused his speech on what he said were Rabin’s hawkish views relative to the opinions of the Left today. He too quoted from Rabin’s speeches to emphasize the former prime minister’s opposition to dividing Jerusalem and recalled that Rabin had commanded the forces which liberated the city.
“We have to remember the abandoned legacy of Rabin that has been forgotten,” Rivlin said.
“This is the importance of keeping Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel.”
Quoting from Rabin’s first Knesset speech after returning to the Prime Minister’s Office in 1992, Rivlin said: “Jerusalem is the object of longing of the entire Jewish people. We have disputes between Right and Left.
But we have no dispute over the need for Jerusalem to remain the united eternal capital of the Jewish people.”
On the other side of the political map, opposition leader Tzipi Livni and Labor chairman Ehud Barak expressed more traditional views about Rabin as a peacemaker.
“Rabin was murdered because he understood what was necessary for his people long before the people knew,” Livni said.
Barak added that “Peace is something that must be made, not just talked about or prayed for.”
The Rabin memorial ceremony at the Knesset was boycotted by National Union MK Michael Ben- Ari on the Right and the three Arab MKs from Balad.
Earlier Wednesday, in a speech at Rabin’s grave site on Mount Herzl, Netanyahu suggested that despite the ongoing divide over Rabin’s legacy, Israelis were more united now than they were at the time of the assassination.
“The major change that has occurred for the better occurred within our ranks, within the people of Israel,” Netanyahu said.
“Today, we are no longer divided into two opposing camps, each of which was convinced that it was entirely right and just, and were it not for them, the country would be destroyed and disaster would be brought upon it.
“There is a good deal less shouting and animosity,” he added. “We listen to each other more; our positions have grown closer together; the gaps have narrowed. One part of the country recognized that it is impossible to exist for long without a political arrangement and without compromise. And the other part today understands that it is not alone in seeking peace; it has learned that Israel does not stand on the verge of an apocalyptic vision; that not everything is in our hands.”