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This week marked the 15th anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin. Rabin was a pragmatic man, who negotiated with (and even shook hands with) a terrorist  simply to prevent further bloodshed of innocent Israelis, but he wasn’t however willing to negotiate away Israel’s security or her heritage.

Its interesting how since his death, the myth of Rabin’s peacemaking expanded.  While it is true that he was the Prime Minister who began the “Oslo Process, ” it is also true that his final vision for the process was to the right of supposedly “hawkish” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Rabin did not support the creation of a Palestinian State, nor did he support the division of Jerusalem. Rabin was not the “sacrifice everything for the sake of peace” type that the Labor Party Premiers who came after him were. In fact Yitzchak Rabin was the last prime minister of Israel that did not support the creation of a Palestinian State.

Nine days before he died, Rabin delivered a speech to the Knesset that laid out his vision for the future of Israel and the disputed territories, including:

  • No Palestinian State: “We view the permanent solution in the framework of State of Israel which will include most of the area of the Land of Israel as it was under the rule of the British Mandate, and alongside it a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority.”
  • No return to ’67 borders: “The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.”
  • Control of Jordan Valley: “The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.”
  • Gush Katif as model: “The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the one in Gush Katif.”
  • All settlements remain intact during interim period: “I want to remind you: we committed ourselves, that is, we came to an agreement, and committed ourselves before the Knesset, not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim agreement, and not to hinder building for natural growth.”
  • United Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev — as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, while preserving the rights of the members of the other faiths, Christianity and Islam, to freedom of access and freedom of worship in their holy places, according to the customs of their faiths.
  • (During interim period) “The responsibility for external security along the borders with Egypt and Jordan, as well as control over the airspace above all of the territories and Gaza Strip maritime zone, remains in our hands.

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(The entire speech can be found here)

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None of this is done to denigrate the memory of the Israeli PM who was slaughtered 15 years ago, its more to show the true nature of the media and world leaders. They have taken upon themselves to recreate Rabin into something he was not. For many years, Rabin’s legacy was defined by the dreams of  the peace process that he was engaged in with the Palestinians at the time of his murder. Whether this was what he would have wanted has been debated by his relatives and confidants, some of whom were aware of his growing  doubts about the intentions of Yasser Arafat, who was already sabotaging the diplomatic process by ordering terrorist attacks before, during and after the time of Rabin’s assassination.

Rabin’s daughter Dalia wrote in an Israeli magazine this past weekend:

“Many people who were close to father told me that on the eve of the murder he considered stopping the Oslo process because of the terror that was running rampant in the streets and that Arafat wasn’t delivering the goods.

Father after all wasn’t a blind man running forward without thought. I don’t rule out the possibility that he considered also doing a reverse onour side.

After all he was someone for whom the security of the state was sacrosanct.”

None of this is meant to disparage the memory of Rabin. Indeed, understanding that he was not a blind peace-maker like some of the Prime Ministers who followed him such as Peres, Barak and Olmert, enhances his memory. The Oslo process that he began, came to be roundly criticized as it lead to a deadly violence including the second intifada, while at the same time consolidating the power of the terrorist Arafat. But who can honestly know what would have happened if a crazy zealot didn’t strike him down 15 years ago. Oslo might have been over long before the intifada and Arafat might have been sent back to his hiding place in Tripoli.
One thing is for sure, the same people who created the revered image of Yitzchak Rabin vilify Benyamin Netanyahu even though Bibi’s positions are to the left of the great peace maker Rabin. Its very interesting the way history can work.

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