Only 60% of Israelis think Yigal Amir murdered Rabin — poll

According to TV survey, 7% say he wasn’t the murderer, 20% don’t know, and 13% believe in unspecified ‘conspiracy theories’

Yigal Amir, appearing in court in 2004. (Yoram Rubin/Flash90/File)
Yigal Amir, appearing in court in 2004. (Yoram Rubin/Flash90/File)

Only 60 percent of Israelis believe Yigal Amir assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, according to a poll released Friday.

The survey, which was aired on Hadashot TV news, was conducted to mark 23 years since Rabin was fatally shot by Amir at a peace rally in Tel Aviv. The report did not give details on the size of the poll or its margin of error.

Amir, a Jewish extremist opposed to the Oslo peace accords between Israel and the Palestinians, was convicted for the November 4, 1995, assassination and is serving a life sentence.

Asked which of four possibilities they believed, 60% said “Amir was the murderer,” 7% said “Amir was not the murderer,” 13% said “a different conspiracy theory,” and 20% said they “did not know.”

Yigal Amir reenacts the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in Tel Aviv. (Government Press Office)

The case against Amir was clear-cut. He was caught on video raising a gun to Rabin. He calmly confessed to the police, re-enacted the crime for them, and never recanted his testimony.

Fringe conspiracy theories have emerged over the years positing a number of possibilities other than Amir being the assassin. The theories rely on some purportedly ambiguous facts surrounding the night of the murder: claims that the bullets were blanks, witnesses who say they didn’t see blood at the scene, an abnormally long drive to a very near-by hospital.

Both the court that convicted Amir and the subsequent Shamgar Commission, established to investigate the chain of events leading up to the assassination, rejected the conspiracy claims, and concluded that Amir was guilty of murder.

Hadashot TV news survey on the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, November 2, 2018 (Hadashot TV screenshot)

The survey also asked if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was opposition leader at the time of Rabin’s murder, was part of incitement that led to killing. 30% of respondents said yes, 40% said no and 20% did not know.

Netanyahu has faced accusations he ignored inflammatory rhetoric that incited the murder, with critics charging pointing to his and other Likud ministers attendance at right-wing rallies where protesters called Rabin a “traitor,” “murderer,” and “Nazi” for signing the peace deal with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu has rejected the allegations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a memorial service marking 23 years since the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, on October 21, 2018. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/Flash90)

In addition, the survey also asked respondents whether they had a positive or negative view of Rabin. 54% said they have a positive view, 16% negative and 30% said they did not know enough to say.

Rabin was a top commander in the pre-state Palmach militia during the War of Independence and went on to serve as Israel’s chief of staff during the Six Day War in 1967. He was later ambassador to the US, defense minister, and twice prime minister.

In 1994, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with then-foreign minister Shimon Peres and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, for his part in signing the Oslo Peace accords a year earlier.

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