Rabin memorial rally turns political as left lambastes Netanyahu
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Rabin memorial rally turns political as left lambastes Netanyahu

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Opposition politicians attacked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a rally in memory of assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Tens of thousands of people gathered Saturday night in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, the site where Rabin was murdered 21 years ago. The rally was sponsored by the Labor Party after the commemoration committee announced it would be unable to hold the annual event due to lack of funds. It became less of a memorial and more of a protest against the current government and its policies.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog told the crowd that he is not prepared to join a Netanyahu-led coalition government because of  its policies and incitement against the left wing.

“Twenty-one years on, the incitement is the same incitement and the leader is the same leader,” Herzog said. “We can no longer let anyone, not a bully nor a leader, continue to incite — not a Knesset member, not a minister and not the prime minister. All red lines have been crossed.”

Prior to the start of the rally, Likud Party lawmaker and coalition chairman David Bitan asserted that Rabin’s murder was not “political.”

“This was not a political murder, and it had nothing to do with politicians. It was a murder committed by one individual who wanted to stop the (peace) process,” Bitan said during an event in Holon.

Rabin was shot dead at the end of a peace rally by a Jewish right-wing extremist, Yigal Amir, who said he wanted to bring an end to the peace process with the Palestinians.

Lawmaker Tzipi Livni of the Zionist Union headed by Herzog attacked Bitan for his statement.

“We came here today to prevent the next political assassination — and yes, Rabin’s murder was political,” she said.

Liven also attacked Netanyahu and his policies.

“We came here to say in clear voice that Israel will not be a place where you single out artists and journalists and IDF commanders and judges … because of their political opinions. This is the time to get out of the corner, to go from defense to offense and say enough,” she said.  “We say yes to democracy, to moderate Judaism, yes to peace, yes to the values that established this country. This is the biggest fight that we have, more important than any person or party.”