Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday rebuffed allegations that he contributed to the incendiary political climate that led to the 1995 assassination of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
In a video posted to his Facebook page on Saturday, the day before Israel marks the Hebrew anniversary of Rabin’s murder, Netanyahu condemned the “shocking political assassination” of his former political rival, and said he is the victim of “attempts to distort the historical truth and attribute the incitement that preceded his murder.”
As evidence, the prime minister attached a video clip of him “definitively denouncing the hate speech directed towards the prime minister,” and urged viewers to “judge for yourself.”
Rabin was murdered on November 4, 1995, by Yigal Amir, an extremist Jew, who was opposed to the Oslo Accords and the handing over of control of parts of the West Bank to the Palestinians as a part of the landmark peace agreement.
רצח רבין היה רצח פוליטי מזעזע שכולנו מוקיעים אותו.מאז הרצח ישנם ניסיונות מתמשכים לעוות את האמת ההיסטורית ולייחס לי את ההסתה שקדמה לרצח.הנה כמה דוגמאות מהדברים החד משמעיים שאמרתי בגנות דברי הנאצה שכוונו נגד ראש הממשלה. תשפטו בעצמכם.
Posted by Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו on Saturday, 12 November 2016
The 50-second video included two excerpts from addresses Netanyahu delivered in the months leading up to Rabin’s murder, in which Netanyahu, then the opposition leader, called the anti-Rabin rhetoric “wrong, misguided and immoral.”
In the weeks before his assassination, Netanyahu and other senior Likud members attended a right-wing political rally in Jerusalem where protesters branded Rabin a “traitor,” “murderer” and “Nazi” for signing a peace agreement with the Palestinians earlier that year.
Critics say Netanyahu — who stood with other right-wing politicians on a balcony above Zion Square as the protests unfolded beneath him, and who also marched in a Ra’anana protest as demonstrators carried a coffin behind him — ignored inflammatory rhetoric that incited to Rabin’s murder.
The Saturday evening post elicited harsh response from former Labor prime minister Ehud Barak, who alleged Netanyahu was central to the anti-Rabin rhetoric, and had created a similarly hostile political climate in Israel today.
“Bibi is not not guilty of Rabin’s murder, but he was the main inciter then at Zion Square and in Raanana” — where protesters walking behind Netanyahu at a demonstration carried a coffin — “and today, in his response to Uvda and his backing of Bitan in whiney posts.”
Last week, Netanyahu came under fire from left-wing and centrist lawmakers after he failed to condemn a claim by fellow Likud MK and coalition chairman David Bitan that Rabin’s assassination was “not political.”
In his post on Saturday, Netanyahu did condemn the killing as “a shocking political assassination, abhored by all.”
Bitan’s remarks, which came hours ahead of the annual memorial rally for Rabin in Tel Aviv, became the focus of speeches by opposition politicians at last Saturday’s event.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) said in his speech that “21 years on, the incitement is the same incitement and the leader is the same leader.” He added that “we can no longer let anyone, not a bully nor a leader, continue to incite — not a Knesset member, not a minister and not the prime minister.”
Rabin’s 91-year-old sister Rachel also lashed out at Netanyahu for ignoring Bitan’s remarks, telling Channel 2, that “the prime minister is silent, as he always is. I expect that as prime minister and Likud leader he would tell the coalition chairman that it was indeed a political murder. What [Bitan] said is nonsense.”