Assoicated France Press (AFP) 4/11/2005
Israel marks 10 years since Rabin assassination
A sombre Israel was marking 10 years since prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish extremist for his policy of land-for-peace reconciliation with the Palestinians.
State ceremonies to honour the passing of the first Israeli prime minister to sign a peace accord with the Palestinians will take place next week when the anniversary falls in accordance with the Hebrew calendar.
The general-turned-peacemaker, who inspired both admiration and hatred for signing the 1993 Oslo autonomy accords with the Palestinians, was shot dead by a Jewish extremist after a peace rally in Tel Aviv on November 4, 1995.
Family members and close friends gathered at his grave on Mount Hertzl in Jerusalem, where they laid single-stem flowers on the simple marble headstone.
"What he started will never be forgotten and we shall continue to act in the same way until we shall achieve the most noble goal of our life, and that is peace among ourselves and our neighbours," Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres was quoted as saying.
In Tel Aviv, dozens drifted to Rabin Square to place flowers and candles at the site where the Nobel peace laureate was fatally shot after a peace rally.
In London, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw paid tribute to Rabin, the "consummate statesman".
"Although Yitzhak Rabin was prevented from seeing his efforts bear fruit, he set in motion a process which, despite setbacks, continues today," Straw said.
A poll published by the Maariv newspaper revealed that Israelis consider Rabin's assassination the third most important event in the history of the Jewish state, behind the 1973 Yom Kippur and the 1967 Middle East war.
Some 84 percent of Israelis also believe the country could be hit by another political assassination. Rabin is also still considered Israel's best prime minister since the Jewish state was set up in 1948, another poll found.
President Moshe Katsav has vowed never to pardon Rabin's convicted assassin, who has never expressed public regret for the murder.
"Yigal Amir is a villain who deserves no grace, no pardon," he said. "I have no intention of granting him a pardon or reducing his sentence."
Rabin shared the Nobel peace prize in 1994 with Peres, then foreign minister, and the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, for signing the Oslo accords, which paved the way to the creation of the Palestinian Authority.
The agreement was effectively sunk after Israel's right-wing swept to power in 1996 and the second Palestinian uprising broke out in 2000.
Israeli radio stations broadcast sombre music as the main newspapers devoted their headlines and inside pages to the anniversary and the legacy of Rabin, not least in Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
Rabin came to believe that the Jewish state should give up Gaza and large parts of the West Bank, two territories occupied while he was chief of staff in the 1967 Middle East war, in exchange for real peace.
Newspapers on the ultra-right wing or ultra-Orthodox largely ignored the commemorations or launched into avid talk of conspiracy theories chipping apart the theory that Amir, caught red-handed, acted alone.
Today, Israel's homeland Shin Bet security service, harshly criticised for failing to prevent the assassination, provides some of the most rigorous security in the world to its government officials.
Late Thursday, Israel's Channel 2 television network charged that a third bullet hole was found in Rabin's shirt on the night he was murdered, despite an official investigation ruling he was killed by two bullets.
On November 14, a state memorial ceremony will be held on Mount Herzl and the new Yitzhak Rabin Center inaugurated, to be attended by dignitaries from across the world.
Two days earlier, a rally will be held in Rabin Square, where former US president Bill Clinton, who worked closely with the slain premier on the peace process, is expected to address the crowd.