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Last Updated: Friday, 4 November 2005, 04:47 GMT
The long shadow of Rabin's legacy
By James Reynolds
BBC News, Jerusalem

Yitzhak Rabin
Rabin advocated a compromise deal with the Palestinians
Ten years ago the prime minister of Israel addressed a rally in Tel Aviv.

Yitzhak Rabin defended his central gamble - you have to talk to the Palestinians, you have to give up land for peace.

Many Israelis agreed with him, but others did not.

Some made threats, but they were outweighed by an old certainty: Jews do not attack Jews. You are safe among your own.

But that night, a handful of bullets changed Israel's certainties for good.

Yitzhak Rabin was shot and killed by a religious student, Yigal Amir. Amir wanted to destroy the peace process.


So, a decade on, did he get his wish?

What he did right now, pulling out of Gaza, is in the same path of my father's concept
Dalia Rabin-Pelosoff
Up until a couple of years ago, in the midst of the second Intifada, the answer was probably yes.

But then things changed. Ariel Sharon announced that he was getting Israel out of Gaza for good.

Mr Sharon's withdrawal has been blessed by the guardians of the Rabin legacy.

"What he did right now, pulling out of Gaza, is in the same path of my father's concept," says Dalia Rabin-Pelosoff, the daughter of the late prime minister.

"So if you want to call him a successor you may call him a successor. But he came to the same conclusion - that to be a Jewish, democratic, independent state we have to separate."

Different approach

So, Yitzhak Rabin's central concept - giving up land to the Palestinians - has survived his assassination.

Yigal Amir, held by police in 1995
Amir wanted to kill the peace process, as well as Rabin
Indeed it has become a defining principle in mainstream Israeli politics. But there is a key difference between the Rabin way and the Sharon way.

Rabin gave up land by negotiating with the Palestinians. Sharon has done it by ignoring them.

"The difference between them is that Rabin wanted a peace partner and searched for one till he found one," says Mohammed Dajani, a Palestinian academic.

"Sharon has a peace partner yet he cannot see how to deal with this peace partner."

Yigal Amir's bullets have left another legacy. The assassin destroyed the certainty that, no matter what, the Jewish people stick together.


The memory of the fate of Rabin has hung over Ariel Sharon.

"As soon as Ariel Sharon tried to follow in Rabin's footsteps he received the same threats. And unlike Rabin, Sharon is being guarded, protected, surrounded by 200 bodyguards," says Danny Ben Simon from Israel's Haaretz newspaper.

As soon as Ariel Sharon tried to follow in Rabin's footsteps he received the same threats
Ben Simon
"But I must say, as to the threat, we have not changed. Jews, radical Jews are still after any Prime Minister who dares touch the Holy Land."

But unlike Rabin, Sharon has survived. And the assassin Yigal Amir is still in a prison cell.

He may watch with pleasure, though, as Israel continues to ignore the Palestinians and build settlements.

Amir will be delighted that he has destroyed trust between the two sides, and that there is - as yet - no Palestinian state.

But in one important way the assassin's bullets did not work.

That other soldier politician Ariel Sharon has taken on board part of Yitzhak Rabin's concept... and he has given up land.

Remembering Yitzhak Rabin
02 Nov 02 |  Middle East
Rabin murder plot woman pardoned
18 Jul 01 |  Middle East
Profile: Yitzhak Rabin
12 Nov 00 |  PROFILES

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