JERUSALEM (JTA) — The annual memorial ceremony to mark the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has been canceled due to lack of funding.
Organizers announced Sunday that the event will not be held for the first time since Rabin was murdered 21 years ago, saying they could not raise sufficient funds. Though the artists and other celebrities who participate in the memorial appear for free, funds are needed to cover such expenses as security.
Rabin was assassinated on Nov. 4, 1995, following a peace rally at a plaza in central Tel Aviv now known as Rabin Square. His assassin, Yigal Amir, was a Jewish extremist who opposed Rabin’s goal of Israeli-Palestinian peace.
A memorial ceremony has been held each year in Rabin Square on the Saturday night closest to the date of the assassination, bringing together tens of thousands of Israelis to remember Rabin’s legacy and call for peace with the Palestinians. In recent years, the memorial ceremony was sponsored by the coalition Remembering the Murder-Fighting for Democracy, led by youth groups and social organizations.
The square remains reserved by the committee in case a way is found to save the memorial.
Instead of the ceremony, this year the coalition will hold roundtable events to discuss Israel as a democracy and other issues important to Israelis in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa on Nov. 13, the official memorial day for Rabin in Israel, Haaretz reported.
Some 100,000 people attended the ceremony last year marking the 20th anniversary of the assassination. The event featured speeches by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who appeared in person, and President Barack Obama, who spoke via video.
Following the announcement of the cancellation of the memorial, Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog announced that the Labor Party, which Rabin had headed, would hold its own memorial.
“We, the Labor Party, will organize an alternative rally,” read the statement. “It should also be noted that the rally was always the responsibility of private and external bodies, but that since this involves the murder of our leader, former Labor leader Yitzhak Rabin, we insist on conducting an alternative rally, taking into account the time constraints and conditions.”