Peres at Rabin memorial: We won't forgive or forget
Event marks 16th anniversary of prime minister's death; President Peres uses opportunity to call for renewed peace process. Knesset session held in Rabin's memory turns stage for condemnation of 'price tag' violence. Knesset speaker: 'Price tag – Jewish terrorism'
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was absent from the Mount Herzl ceremony. The Prime Minister's Office said that Netanyahu has spoken with Rabin's daughter, Dalia, and informed her that he could not make the memorial as his family was mourning the death of his father-in-law, Shmuel Ben-Artzi. Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon attended in his stead.
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Remembering his old friend, Peres dubbed the late prime minister "a leader in times of war, a statesman in times of peace."
Peres at Wednesday's ceremony. (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"I believe that it is possible to renew the peace process with the Palestinians, which was started by Yitzhak." he said. "I turn to the Palestinian leadership and advise it to return to the negotiating table to settle the disagreements that remain.
"Peace won't be achieved through the UN, because the UN cannot provide the Palestinians with independence, and cannot provide Israel with security," he added, referring to the PA's bid for UN membership.
'Vandals must be brought to justice'
Peres addressed the wave of vandalism that has been directed at Muslim holy sites and the IDF lately, saying that the perpetrators of the "price tag" acts must be stopped and prosecuted.
"In dark corners, beyond the spectrum of the Israeli people's opinions, grow wild weeds that violate the law and clash with the IDF troops that protect it," Peres said.
Rabin's picture at memorial Knesset session (Photo: Noam Moskovich)
"Some of them even go as far as vandalism, arson and desecration of holy sites," he added. "It is our duty to locate and isolate the violent individuals, and bring them to justice."
In the same vein of thought, Ya'alon said at the ceremony that the authorities "will fight by all available means against anyone who takes the law into his hands and dares to carry out acts of revenge against our neighbors or harass those who hold a different opinion."
'Price tag – Jewish terrorism'
Later Wednesday, a special Knesset meeting was held in Rabin's memory. Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni said during the session that "Israel needs leadership that the world respects and trusts and testifies to the fact in public and in private."
She addressed the "price tag" phenomenon as well: "We can no longer close our eyes and say 'these things aren't happening'. Even if Yigal Amir was just one person, I have no doubt that if he had one minute before he was caught, he would have graffitied the words 'price tag'."
Rivlin at Knesset Wednesday (Photo: Noam Moskovich)
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said during the session that if the "price tag" vandals are proven to be Jewish, "there is no other name to call it except Jewish terrorism."
However, Rivlin warned in his speech against making careless generalizations on the issue.
"Just like 'Rabin' isn't a code name for Oslo opponents, 'price tag' is not a code name for settlers," he said. "(...) making generalizations is dangerous, but we have yet to internalize this lesson. How many times have we heard the slanderous claim that yet another 'price tag' incident was carried out by settlers."
Also during the session, Defense Minister Ehud Barak reiterated Peres' call for renewed peace talks with the Palestinians.
"This is clearly within Israel's interests," he said.
Moran Azulay contributed to the report
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