PM: J'lem owes debt of honor to Ze'evi

Peres Zeevi wanted Pal

Israel's leading political figures congregated Sunday afternoon with family and friends to remember former senior military commander, National Union MK and tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi, who was assassinated by four Fatah gunmen at Jerusalem's Hyatt Hotel in October 2001. Both President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke at the ceremony, which took place at Ze'evi's grave at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery. "Jerusalem owes a debt of honor to Ghandi," Netanyahu said, using Ze'evi's nickname, adding that Ze'evi was "an exemplary figure." "For 19 years Hebrew Jerusalem was cramped into the edge of a narrow corridor, closed off in three directions and divided along a hostile, mine-filled urban line. The Israeli government decided to unify Jerusalem and annex the Old City. "The mission was given to Ghandi. He was the one who created the unified map of the city that was approved by the government and Knesset. At that moment [when the map was approved], Jerusalem was thrown wide open. "City neighborhoods, from Ramot to Gilo, owe a debt [of gratitude] to Ghandi," the prime minister said at the service. Netanyahu stressed that despite Ze'evi's "controversial" political outlook, "his deeper voice must reverberate and be heard beyond the boundaries of time." Netanyahu said that Ze'evi had championed the Jews' "irrefutable right to our country and homeland," exhibiting "boundless devotion to the people of Israel, the security of [Israel] and the land of Israel." Peres said that Ze'evi's views "were ironclad," adding that he "would not surrender to the spirit of the times." Ze'evi had at one time urged the creation of a Palestinian federation in the West Bank, the president said, and had warned that the Palestinian state must be established before "prolonged Israeli rule deepens the hate as well as the chasm between inhabitants of the West Bank and Israel." Peres added that although Ze'evi had been "uncompromising" on the political front, he had been a caring and empathic man. Also present at the memorial ceremony were Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, acting Supreme Court Justice Hanan Melzer, Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky and several ministers, MKs and officials.