TEL AVIV (JTA) – An estimated 100,000 people remembered prime minister Yitzhak Rabin at a Tel Aviv rally marking the 20th anniversary of his assassination that featured speeches by U.S. President Barack Obama and former president Bill Clinton.
On Saturday night at the plaza bearing Rabin’s name, Clinton praised Rabin’s willingness to take risks for peace and exhorted the crowd to finish his work. Clinton guided Israeli-Palestinian negotiations when Rabin was prime minister that led to the Oslo Accords in 1993.
“The next step will be determined by whether you decide that Yitzhak Rabin was right,” Clinton said. “That you have to share the future with your neighbours. That you have to stand for peace. That the risks of peace are not as severe as the risks of walking away from it.”
Rabin was assassinated on Nov. 4, 1995 following a pro-peace rally at the same plaza in central Tel Aviv. His assassin, Jewish extremist Yigal Amir, opposed Rabin’s goal of Israeli-Palestinian peace.
In a video message, Obama called Rabin a leader who “understood the dangers Israel faces, but he also said the Palestinians are not to be ruled over forever by force.”
“Yitzhak speaks to us still,” Obama said. “Let us demonstrate that we oppose violence and extremism of any kind, and let us exhaust every opening for the peace we know is just and possible.”
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called on Israelis to mend their internal social rifts.
“Israel’s democracy has not ceased to realize its strength and resilience,” he said at the rally.