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At Rabin memorial, Netanyahu blames PA for failed peace efforts

PM says there’s no peace because Palestinians refuse to recognize Jewish state; Herzog pans him for 10 years of failure

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a memorial service on October 26, 2015, to mark 20 years since the assassination of late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a memorial service on October 26, 2015, to mark 20 years since the assassination of late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Addressing the Knesset during a special session honoring the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin on the 20th anniversary of his assassination, Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday blamed the failure of peace talks on the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish state to exist.

Netanyahu said that the prime minister’s death “joins a list of traumatic events in the history of our people, which stemmed from fanaticism and the pitting of a man against his brother.”

But the focus of the prime minister’s speech, his second on Monday honoring Rabin, focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that his predecessor sought to end.

“There is a profound reason why we didn’t achieve peace,” said Netanyahu, who, as Likud leader, was a vocal opponent of the Oslo Accords during the last Rabin government. “[The Palestinians] aren’t prepared to recognize once and for all the national state of the Jewish people, they are not truly prepared to end the conflict and give up the dream of returning to Haifa, Jaffa and Acre.”

Arab members of the Knesset walked out of the plenum in response to Netanyahu’s remarks.

Reiterating points he made earlier Monday — during a ceremony at Rabin’s graveside on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl — Netanyahu said Israel is combating “incitement and terror with all our strength.

“We all know: Peace needs to be anchored in security,” Netanyahu told lawmakers, past and present, and Rabin’s family, who sat in the Knesset gallery. “We need to negate the hope of the Palestinians and all our enemies, who one day will subdue us with the force of the sword. Will we forever live by the sword? If we loosen our grip on what’s ours, their sword will vanquish us.

“Rabin understood this well. He was a realistic leader, he didn’t blame ourselves for terrorism, he was utterly devoid of self-flagellation,” he continued.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog, who now heads Rabin’s party, lashed out at Netanyahu, saying Israel was fast approaching a crossroads: “Will we slip into Masada, to a state of Sicarii [Jewish radicals during the first century CE], to the destruction of our third independence?

“Or will we go boldly and with joined forces toward a courageous and grand rectification, which will bring us secure, clear, recognized and defined borders for the State of Israel, which will protect it as our national home for now and forever,” he said.

Zionist Union party Leader Isaac Herzog speaks at a memorial ceremony marking 20 years since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, in the Knesset, October 26, 2015. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Zionist Union party Leader Isaac Herzog speaks at a memorial ceremony marking 20 years since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, in the Knesset, October 26, 2015. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

He also responded to Netanyahu’s charge that the Palestinians were to blame for the failed peace negotiations, saying at least Rabin strove for peace with the Palestinians.

“Ten years already Netanyahu has been prime minister. And you’re still blaming Rabin, who was murdered 20 years ago,” Herzog said. “There’s no Rabin, Mr. Prime Minister. Twenty years already. And soon enough it’ll be 10 years that you’ve been in charge. In the period of your tenure Jerusalem has been divided, but not by [former president and defense minister Shimon] Peres and not by Rabin. Just you are responsible.”

Apparently referring to comments made earlier in the day by President Reuven Rivlin, who said that Rabin had “commanded” Israel to protect Jerusalem, the Labor leader said the Jerusalem that the late prime minister fought to liberate in 1967 didn’t include the Shuafat refugee camp or Isawiyah — Arab neighborhoods of the capital that have become hotbeds of Palestinian terrorism against Israel and that the Palestinians want as part of the capital of their future state.

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