Clinton: Rabin knew he was risking his life
Masses gather in Tel Aviv for emotional memorial ceremony to mark 10 years since assassination of Yitzhak Rabin; former President Clinton receives enthusiastic reception from crowd, says 'not a week goes by' where he doesn't think of Rabin. New Labor party leader Peretz calls for 'moral road map,' end to occupation
(VIDEO) Tens of thousands of people gathered at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv Saturday evening for an emotional memorial ceremony to mark a decade since the murder of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Tel Aviv Police estimate that around 70,000 people took part in the rally, but organizers said 200,000 people arrived at Rabin Square. The stage at the square was rebuilt and made to look exactly as it did on the eve of the murder in 1995. A lone microphone was positioned where Rabin stood a decade ago before being shot dead.
Former U.S. president Bill Clinton, who delivered the keynote speech, arrived at the rally under heavy security and received an enthusiastic reception from the masses gathered at the square.
In his speech, he told Israelis: "Make no mistake about it, he (Rabin) knew he was risking his life... Remember, if he were here, he would say: Enough of all this missing. If you think I made a noble sacrifice, then for goodness sake, take up my work."
The rally began with the recorded Rabin speech from the rally 10 years ago where he was assassinated.
"Violence is gnawing away at Israel's democratic foundation. It must be condemned, denounced, and isolated. This is not the way of the State of Israel," Rabin said in that speech.
Rabin's former Bureau Chief Eitan Haber, whose announcement of the prime minister's death was etched into Israel's collective memory, was the first to take the podium and said "the State of Israel is going in the path forged by Rabin."
Rabin should be "remembered by all of Israel, including bitter opponents," Haber said.
Newly elected Labor party leader Amir Peretz also spoke at the rally and told the crowds Rabin's way has won after all.
"The path of Oslo is alive and well. It breaths in your place. It blazes in your place, it breaths in every corner, and everyone knows that it is the hope," he said, referring to Rabin's deal with the Palestinians," he said.
Misses Rabin: Bill Clinton (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Delivering an impassioned speech, Peretz continued: "I was the kid that got to Israel 50 years ago at the age of four...and who now lives with his family in the era of Qassam rockets. And I have a dream, Yitzhak, that one day in the no-man's land between Sderot and Beit Hanoun (in Gaza,) an industrial zone will be set up."
"Entertainment venues and playgrounds for our children and Palestinian children will be set up, and they will play together, and build a common future together," Peretz said. "On that day, Yitzhak, I will be able to go to your grave and say: Let your soul rest, because you were murdered but you won. Until then, we won't rest and we won't be silent until we realize your path."
Peretz added: "Today we need a moral road map in which the value of each person will be apparent to us. A moral road map means the end of the occupation and the signing of a permanent (peace) deal. A moral road map is a defense of the value of the person in Israel, a defense of his honor, family, and income."
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, the lone Likud representative at the rally, touched the crowds by declaring the event was "above politics" and noting she chose to attend despite her personal disagreement with Rabin's way.
"It's important for me to be here this evening because, despite the signs being held here, this is not a political night, and tonight can be above politics," she said.
"During that Saturday evening 10 years ago, the prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, was murdered. When those shots were fired, they not only hit Yitzhak Rabin, they not only hit the head of Labor, but they also hit the prime minister of my state, and they hit everyone… I came here as the justice minister of Israel to clearly say: No to violence and yes to respecting the other, as painful as it is. Yes to peace between us."
Vice Premier Shimon Peres, who was also warmly greeted by those in attendance, said: "I stood with him here, exactly 10 years ago. I could see the wonderful young people, who jumped into the pool and called out: Long live peace, long live Yitzhak."
"He was deeply moved by that support. I turn to you and say: Enter political lives and with your energy, go down the path of peace for the State of Israel. No nation will save us, no state will do it for us. Peace is in your hands. And I call on every single one of you not only to cry for Yitzhak, but also to enlist just like him," Peres said.
Rabin Square on Saturday evening (Photo: AP)
Clinton, speaking at Jerusalem before the rally, said that not a week has passed since the murder where he has not thought about Yitzhak Rabin. He added that he came to Israel with his wife Hilary and daughter Chelsea in order to honor the memory of a person he still miss all the time.
The former U.S. president said that five years had passed since he left office, and since the biggest mistake made by Arafat, which was not to take advantage of the opportunity presented to him in the framework of former Prime Minister Ehud Barak's peace offer.
Avi Cohen and Tal Rosner contributed to this report