Addressing the Knesset, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described “a gaping wound in the body of the nation that heals and leaves a scar for generations,” before recalling his first encounter with Rabin.
“I met Rabin for the first time in 1975 when I came as a student from the US to recommend to him steps to stop the pressure that was being exerted by the American government on Israel,” Netanyahu said. “Rabin was undeterred and was strongly opposed to a forced solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and insisted on our security requirements and promoted the transfer of military aid to Israel.”
“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,” he continued. “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."
He went on to say that today, Israel stands strong against any attempts to force international solutions and will resist coercion which only hardens the Palestinian stance before attempting to draw parallels between his outlook and Rabin’s vis-a-vis Iran.
“The root of the storm sweeping the region now lies in the rise of radical Islam. Rabin frequently and explicitly named Iran as the state which fans the flames of this radicalism. He warned of Iran’s aspiration to develop a nuclear weapon, which today, through a variety of means, Israel has succeeded in preventing. He also pointed to Iran’s far-reaching aspirations to undermine the stability of our region.”
Concluding his analysis, Netanyahu said, “Not much has changed since then and if it has then it is for the worse. The Iranian regime has repeatedly stated its intention to eradicate Israel and Iran still has not abandoned its nuclear program.”
The prime minister’s speech was followed by Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog who used to podium to denounce what he described as “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.”
Herzog then called upon Netanyahu to takes diplomatic measures to separate from the Palestinians. “This is the moment of truth, the moment of tremendous chance and a moment of tremendous danger that blood will spill and we will no longer be able to separate from our neighbors,” he said. Referencing the recent US election of Donald Trump to the presidency, Herzog added, “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.”
Bayit Yehudi Leader Naftali Bennett took the opportunity to defend Prime Minister Netanyahu, despite the tensions which have recently materialized between them, particularly over the so-called Regulations Bill. “Twenty-one years ago an effort began to blame the prime minister and the then opposition leadaer Benjamin Netanyahu for incitement. I saw time and again how he said that while we are divided there is a limit to the divide.”