A day after a fractious parliamentary session in memory of the assassinated former premier Yitzhak Rabin, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked took an apparent swipe on Tuesday at her coalition partners Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz for their speeches.
Shaked, a member of the right-wing Yamina party, said in a Facebook post that the “wild incitement” must stop and that the discourse had crossed a line.
Shaked said that she did not initially comment on Monday because she did not want to add unnecessarily to the friction on a day that should teach people of the importance of managing differences of opinion.
“Upon hearing the speeches yesterday, I just cringed. The labeling of a large part of the electorate as opponents and assassins of democracy is a terrible injustice done to people with a valued ideology, who are forced every year on this day to endure slurs and insults, including [against] their representatives,” she wrote.
“Such labeling excludes half of the people from the democratic game; it is not the preservation of democracy but instead shows contempt,” Shaked said.
“There is no ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ here. These are people, and people need to respect one another.”
Shaked also said that she was glad that MK Shirly Pinto, a fellow member of Yamina, deleted a tweet making accusations against opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu had also been head of the opposition at the time of the assassination and has been accused of fanning the flames of incitement that led to the murder 26 years ago.
Each year, when the Knesset marks the anniversary of the assassination, right-wing lawmakers accuse left-wing rivals of blaming an entire political camp for the actions of one extremist, while left-wing MKs and ministers retort that the right has not learned the lesson of Rabin’s murder and continues to incite against those who think differently.
Shaked’s statement came after Lapid said Monday that far-right members of the Knesset are the “ideological heirs” of Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir.
“Yigal Amir’s ideological heirs are today serving in Israel’s Knesset. Had we not performed the miracle of the ‘change government,’ they would be ministers in the government,” Lapid said, as Bezalel Smotrich, who heads the far-right Religious Zionism party, was escorted out of the plenum by security guards, shouting, “You’re an anti-Zionist.”
Amir came from the national-religious camp, whose leaders staged fierce protests throughout the country against Rabin as he negotiated the Oslo Accords in the 1990s. Many of those protests included chants such as “Rabin the traitor,” and some featured placards with images of the prime minister wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh scarf, as well as a makeshift coffin with his name on it.
Netanyahu, head of the Likud party, indeed helped the far-right enter the Knesset in this year’s election, brokering an agreement between Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, who heads the neo-Kahanist Otzma Yehudit party. Netanyahu offered a spot on the Likud slate to a Religious Zionism MK in exchange for the party chairman agreeing to the merger. This ensured Ben Gvir’s entry into the Knesset. Still, Netanyahu’s rivals managed to form a unity government without him.
Ben Gvir, who was infamously filmed bragging about snatching the hood ornament off of Rabin’s car ahead of the assassination and warning that he would get to the prime minister, was not present during Monday’s Knesset session.
“There is a clear line stretching between the assassination of Rabin and the past year,” Lapid said in his speech. “Both are part of the great Israeli struggle. Not between right and left, but between those who believe in democracy and those trying to destroy it.
“I want to say to those anti-democratic forces: We have been here for a long time, and we are not going anywhere.”
At a Meretz party faction meeting on Monday, Horowitz, the health minister, said that Netanyahu’s refusal to attend a state memorial ceremony at Mount Herzl was a “continuation of the campaign of incitement and distortion of history, and an attempt to disengage from responsibility.”
Netanyahu used the Knesset session to once again respond to accusations that he had played a role in the incitement that led to Rabin’s killing.
“From the Knesset podium, a month before the assassination, I said unequivocally — the phenomenon of calling Israeli leaders ‘murderers’ and ‘traitors’… is wrong, was always wrong, and we condemn it every time,” the opposition chairman recalled.
After Netanyahu’s speech, Yamina’s Pinto took to Twitter to double down on long-made accusations against Netanyahu. She referred to infamous footage in 1995 of Netanyahu looking down from a porch above Jerusalem’s Zion Square on a mass protest against Rabin. During that demonstration, protesters called for the premier’s head.
“Sometimes, it seems like he never left that porch. An inciter he was and an inciter he remains,” Pinto wrote. “This year too, Netanyahu used Rabin’s assassination to explain that he, in fact, was the one that was attacked.”
Pinto later deleted the tweet, but said that people were taking what she had written out of proportion.
“The murder is not a matter of right or left. Netanyahu has been inciting against the prime minister, against the interior minister, and against this government for many months,” she said.