MONTREAL (Nov. 18)
Recalling his roots and role in the modern history of Jerusalem, a visibly angered Yitzhak Rabin has denied suggestions that he had abandoned his commitment to a united city.
“I’m committed to a united Jerusalem and no one will teach me what is a united Jerusalem,” the Israeli prime minister said at a news conference hours before he was to address the General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations in Montreal.
“I was born in Jerusalem, the first Israeli prime minister to be born in Jerusalem,” he said.
“I commanded a brigade that fought along the road to Jerusalem, a brigade that lost more than any of the other brigades in the War of Independence.”
He said he had “had a unique role” in bringing about the city’s unification when he was Israel Defense Force chief of staff during the 1967 Six-Day War.
“You don’t have to tell me and no one has to tell me the meaning of a united Jerusalem,” the prime minister said.
Rabin also stressed his government’s dedication to the peace process.
The peace process’ most historic moment did not occur with Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat in September, he said.
“The historic breakthrough did not take place on the lawns of the White House on the 13th of September, but took place on the lawns of the White House in 1978 upon the singing of the Camp David accord,” Rabin said.
And he paid homage to Israel’s architect of that deal.
“I more than appreciate the courage of the late prime minister of Israel, Menachem Begin, when he took the decision to give back a large percentage of Sinai,” Rabin said.
He admitted that, by negotiating with the PLO, he had broken a campaign promise.
But he chose this route, he said, after he realized that the organization was calling the shots for the Palestinian negotiating team. Direct dealing with the PLO is the most prudent way to achieve peace, he said.
Rabin met Wednesday in Ottawa with newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and used the occasion to thank Canada for its role in the peace process and for its contribution to the U.N. peacekeeping force in the Middle East.