Gabbay: If you can’t acknowledge causes of Rabin’s murder, don’t attend ceremony

At faction meeting, Zionist Union leader slams right-wing leaders ‘who maintain their base through ugly means of incitement’; Lapid attacks PM for dismissing heckler as ‘boring’

Raoul Wootliff is the Times of Israel's former political correspondent and producer of the Daily Briefing podcast.

Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay leads a faction meeting in Knesset on May 7, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay leads a faction meeting in Knesset on May 7, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Zionist Union and Labor party chair Avi Gabbay on Monday lambasted “those who cannot mourn” full-throatedly the assassination of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and acknowledge the circumstances that led to it.

His comments came after Rabin’s granddaughter Noa Rothman, speaking at a national memorial ceremony on Sunday, said Israel’s leadership was setting the country’s political camps against each other and inciting against the left. She also erroneously claimed that an official in the current Prime Minister’s Office had branded her grandfather a “traitor.”

Her speech was lambasted by various right-wing politicians as “political” in nature.

“The murder was political, not a robbery gone wrong. This we will continue to say without hesitation and without apologizing,” Gabbay said at his faction’s meeting at the Knesset. “Whoever has trouble mourning when that is said, don’t come. Don’t come to the ceremonies. We’ve no need of playacting.”

Though Gabbay acknowledged that “the vast majority of right-wing voters were horrified by the murder and mourn it… the problem was and remains some of [the right’s] political and spiritual leaders. Leaders who maintain their base through ugly means of incitement, and through conveying that if you’re not praising the prime minister, you’re a traitor.”

His comments came a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clashed with Rothman publicly over her speech, and following Culture Minister Miri Regev’s comments Monday that there “wasn’t any incitement on the right before the murder.”

Netanyahu used his speech at the Knesset memorial ceremony for Rabin on Sunday to hit back at by Rothman.

“This is unfortunately an example of how sometimes, during the discourse on fighting incitement and moderation speech, baseless claims are made, not only against me but an entire community, that have no basis in reality,” Netanyahu said, rebuffing long-made allegations that he contributed to the incendiary political climate that led to the 1995 murder.

Regev told Army Radio on Monday that while the Rabin family was “free to say whatever they want.. .I believe there wasn’t any incitement by the right. I think today we’re seeing incitement by the left against us. Of course there were a difficult event here, but I don’t think there’s anyone who did not condemn it, including from the right.”

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, attends a Culture, Sports and Eductaion Committee meeting at the Knesset, on July 2, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Gabbay also criticized the government in light of Jordan’s decision Sunday to cancel certain clauses in its peace treaty with Israel, saying Amman’s action was an example of “reality contradicting the tales told” of its accomplishments.

Meanwhile Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid also attacked the prime minister during his faction’s meeting overs his comments last week to a heckler who he said was “boring.”

“The State of Israel has serious problems and a prime minister who has lost patience to deal with them,” Lapid said.

Highlighting the fact that life expectancy in the periphery is three years less than in the center of the country, Lapid said Netanyahu prefers to attack citizens who have real complaints rather than deal with them.

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid leads his weekly faction meeting in the Knesset, June 4, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

“It is time for the government to work hard and seriously deal with the real problems of the citizens of the State of Israel,” he said.

Meanwhile the Likud party canceled its weekly faction meeting at the Knesset which Netanyahu was due to speak at.

The party gave no reason for the cancellation but party sources said it was because coalition chairman David Amsalem was unavailable to attend.

The last time the faction meeting was canceled, in June, it later came out that Netanyahu had been secretly visiting Jordan to meet with King Abdullah II.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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