Is Yigal Amir, who in 1995 assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and is serving out a life sentence, planning on casting his vote next Tuesday for the up-and-coming right-wing Jewish Home party under its leader Naftali Bennett?
At this point, the answer appears to be no, after a series of Facebook exchanges and media reports Wednesday brought up the issue.
Hagai Amir, the assassin’s brother, who was released from prison in May and remains unrepentant for his role as an accessory to Rabin’s murder, replied Wednesday to a Facebook post from user Ariel Waysman asking for whom Yigal intended to cast his vote.
“Bennett,” Hagai Amir replied. After a flurry of negative responses, he added: “Well, who did you think he would vote for?”
However, after Hebrew media began to report about the exchange, Amir wrote on his own page that he was being “sarcastic” and “humorous” in his reply to Waysman. He added that he didn’t think his brother was going to vote at all, and if did, it would “certainly not be for Bennett.”
Yigal Amir’s wife, Larisa Trembovler, later also posted that “Yigal, at this time, does not intend to vote in the upcoming elections. Please do not spread baseless rumors.”
Unlike in the United States, where convicted felons lose their right to vote, in Israel one’s criminal record does not affect voting privileges.
After the initial reports, Hatnua head Tzipi Livni said: “The idea that someone who tried to murder Israeli democracy and murdered a prime minister is recommending that the public vote for Jewish Home should cause a tremor in the hand of anyone who considered voting for Bennett when they enter the polling booth.”
Bennett on Wednesday morning dismissed as political propaganda the reports of Amir’s endorsement.
“They’re trying to get voters to say, ‘Oh my God, if that murderer is voting for this party, then I don’t want to have anything to do with them,’” he told Army Radio. “Enough!”
Reportedly, Geula Amir, the mother of the Amir brothers, said Yigal “tended toward Bennett” but that the family was not planning on voting.