Incitement kills? Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz said on Wednesday that there was "no proof" that the killer of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 was driven to commit the murder because of incitement against the prime minister, and that the death was a direct result of the failure of his security guards to protect him.
Israeli security officials have warned in recent months of increased threats of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in wake of his plan to pull all troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip next month. He has since been fitted with a bullet-proof vest, despite his jokes that nobody could ever find one that fit him.
Religious Jewish leaders initiated a "Pulsa Denura," or "death curse" on Sharon last month, as they did with Rabin months before his murder.
Rabin was assassinated by ultranationalist Yigal Amir, who wanted to derail his interim peace talks with the Palestinians. Amir, a yeshiva student, had said he was encouraged to murder the prime minister by his rabbi.
But Mazuz said Rabin's murder was not caused directly by incitement.
"We must be careful about drawing connections between this, or any other event, and incitement," he said. "People speak about (Rabin's) murder as if it was a clear case of incitement, but no one has ever proved that incitement led to the murder. What is clear is that there was a security failure," he said.
Left-wingers have since demanded that harsher measures be taken against those who incite against Israeli leaders.
Police arrested dozens of right-wingers in recent months during protests against Israeli's pullout plan for allegedly inciting against Sharon and other officials.
Leftists slam comments
Vice Premier Shimon Peres said there was "no doubt" that talk about 'Pulsa Denura' and lectures by rabbis" led to the Rabin's slaying.
"We cannot forget that an atmosphere of incitement and violence could eventually lead to a pull of the trigger," he said.
Moshe Debi, spokesman for the Yitzhak Rabin Center in Tel Aviv, said his organization works year-round to develop educational activities, and said the attorney general's office would do better to reinforce the message.
"(Mazuz's) remarks are very serious. Does he really need any more proof that incitement does in fact contribute to violence and murder by extremists?"
Several Knesset members also blasted Mazuz's comments.
"It seems to me that the entire law enforcement apparatus remains silent in the face of a very extreme, self-confident group that hides behind the law to carry out its acts of vandalism," said Ran Cohen of the left-wing Meretz-Yahad party.
"The kippa-wearing community continues to claim it finest youth are being slandered, but the fact is that every single murder comes from that camp. I feel deep warmth for the kippa, but the past four murderers wore a kippa," he said, relating to religious Jews.
"The leaders of the national-religious camp did not understand in time that there are bad weeds amongst them, and it is their job to get rid of them. This is a movement in which rabbis and political leaders incite against other people and suffer no consequence for it, not even in its public legitimacy."