JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin for working toward peace while insisting on security during a special Knesset session to mark 21 years since his assassination.
“Rabin sought peace and extended his hand for peace but fundamentally he understood that the establishment of peace needed to be done in a sober fashion and with responsibility,” Netanyahu said Sunday afternoon. “His insistence on security arrangements, even during his final speech is exactly where I stand: the security arrangements to which even today the Palestinians do not agree.”
“I have also extended my hand in peace, but time after time the Palestinians refuse to engage in peace talks or recognize a Jewish state within any borders,” he said.
Netanyahu pointed out that Rabin had named Iran as the state that “fans the flames” of radical Islam,” as it continues to do today.
At the same Knesset session, opposition leader Isaac Herzog called on Netanyahu to make peace with and separate from the Palestinians.
“Our identity is not derived from the identity of the individual who sits in the White House. The moment of truth is here. We must decide, as Rabin said, peace prospects are better than thousands of wars,” Herzog said.
Herzog blamed Netanyahu for the “incitement which has taken place over the past few years” and warned that “other murderers could already be walking among us and the responsibility for this lies completely with you, prime minister.”
Netanyahu and other right-wing leaders were accused of fomenting the atmosphere that led to Rabin’s assassination, including attending a rally just days before the assassination in which Rabin was called a “traitor” and a “murderer” for signing the Oslo Accords.
Netanyahu on Saturday posted a video to his Facebook page condemning Rabin’s political assassination and including a video clip of him from 1995 denouncing the hateful rhetoric against the then-prime minister during two different public addresses.
In the post Netanyahu called Rabin’s murder “a shocking political assassination, abhorred by all.”