Rabin ‘ordered us’ to defend Jerusalem, Rivlin says at memorial

President Reuven Rivlin on Monday led the state tributes to Yitzhak Rabin, telling participants at a memorial service at Mount Herzl cemetery that the legacy of the slain prime minister was to “safeguard Jerusalem,” and that dividing it would be an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of Rabin’s assassination, the president drove home the prime minister’s connection to his hometown and the city’s relevance.

The memorial at Rabin’s grave site was attended by Rabin’s family and Israeli dignitaries, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Supreme Court President Miriam Naor.

“Rabin was the one who cleared our path to Jerusalem [in 1948], he’s the one who united Jerusalem for us [in 1967], and he’s the one who commanded us, the supporters and opponents of the Oslo [Peace Accords],” Rivlin said. “Today it’s clear to us all that we can’t continue to ignore East Jerusalem. We can’t continue to suppress its existence.”

Rivlin cited Rabin’s opening speech to the 13th Knesset in 1992, in which he said: “This Government, like all of its predecessors, believes there is no disagreement in this House concerning Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel. United Jerusalem has been and will forever be the capital of the Jewish People.”

Netanyahu, who took the podium after Rivlin, said that Rabin’s assassination was a “great fracture” in Israeli society, “a wound that won’t heal; it leaves us all bruised and in pain.”

The prime minister lauded his predecessor’s refusal to accept the “outrageous position that we’re both victims and simultaneously culpable.”

“He sought to bring an end to the conflict and worked for the sake of the people, but he also very quickly was forced to contend with brutal waves of terrorism,” Netanyahu said. “Terrorism stems from the refusal to recognize the national state of the Jewish people in any borders. At the crux of it, that was and still is the root of the conflict.”

Turning to the current round of violence plaguing Israel and the Palestinian territories, Netanyahu seized the opportunity to jab at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

“The immediate challenge these days is to stand against the campaign of libel and lies, against knives and stones,” the prime minister said, alluding to the wave of Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis. Netanyahu has repeatedly charged that Abbas is spreading false allegations that Israel is plotting to change the status quo on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, and that Israel killed innocent Palestinian children.

Dalia Rabin-Pelossof, the late prime minister’s daughter, spoke out against the “abyss of dark hatred that is growing stronger in public discourse” and “this fire which consumes every good part and is fed by unbridled incitement, the same incitement that created the atmosphere that permitted the assassination of a prime minister.”

Former MK Dalia Rabin-Pelossof speaks at the memorial service to mark 20 years since the assassination of her father Yitzhak Rabin (screen capture: Channel 2)

Former MK Dalia Rabin-Pelossof speaks at the memorial service to mark 20 years since the assassination of her father Yitzhak Rabin (screen capture: Channel 2)

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