Wednesday, October 20, 2010

PM Netanyahu: Israeli people no longer divided; I am a partner to Rabin's approach to peace

"You were skeptical and careful, respectful and thoughtful, and you were determined to continue down a road leading to peace, I am a partner to your approach that we must always continue pushing for peace."

The main memorial ceremony for former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated 15 years ago, was held Wednesday afternoon on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

The ceremony was attended by President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, ministers and Knesset members, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish, as well as the Rabin family members, public figures and many citizens. Rabin's son, Yuval, recited the Kaddish prayer over his father's grave.

In his speech, Netanyahu referred to the rift among the Israeli people, saying that "we are no longer divided into two opposite camps, when (each camp) is convinced it holds the truth and the (other camp's) truth will lead to the state's destruction and bring disaster on it.

"There is a lot less screaming here now; a lot less animosity. We listen to one another. Our positions are becoming more similar. The gaps are diminishing. One part of the nation has recognized the fact that we cannot continue to exist without order and without compromises, while another part of the nation understands today that it is not the only one aspiring for peace, that Israel is not nearing the end of days, and that not everything is in our hands," the PM said.

Addressing the peace process, Netanyahu stressed that any agreement must include security arrangements. "I believe that today most of Israel's citizens understand that even if a peace is achieved, Israel will have to continue guarding its security assets, because security upholds peace while undermining security disintegrates it. I believe there is broad agreement on the essence of our existence here, which you too, Yitzhak, defined so well," he said.

"In your final speech in Knesset you said, 'We strive first and foremost to establish Israel as a Jewish state, while at the same time we promise that Israel's non-Jewish citizens will enjoy all the individual, religious and civil rights'. Judaism and racism, you said, contradict each other. We are convinced that a bi-national state will not be able to fulfill the national mission of the State of Israel, which is the state of the Jews," Netanyahu added.

"This is the core principle that guided Yitzhak Rabin. A State of Israel that fulfills its Jewish and democratic objective and lives in peace and security with all its neighbors, particularly the Palestinians. I believe this goal unites most of the nation today, and I believe that by joining forces we can realize it."