Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks as he attends a state memorial ceremony for Yitzhak and Leah Rabin, at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem on Sunday. Photo by Heidi Levine/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that slain Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin "was not a traitor" for approving the 1993 Oslo Accords and admitted he should have spoken out more against those who labeled him as one.
The Oslo Accords started the possible two-state solution the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which caused bitter debate in Israel. Rabin was assassinated in 1995. Netanyahu said while the debate over the accords was legitimate, the demonizing of Rabin was not.
Speaking at an annual ceremony for Rabin at Mount Herzl, Netanyahu said others were now trying to use Rabin's death for political gain.
"What was not legitimate was to call Yitzhak Rabin a 'traitor' or a 'murderer,'" Netanyahu said. "Over the years since the murder, I have heard this false claim by fanatics who oppose Oslo" Netanyahu said.
"I stood to the side, I was silent and did not respond. At times, I even encouraged it. But repeating a lie many times does not make it true. Here is what I said then, countless times. No, Rabin was not a traitor. He was wrong, but he was not a traitor."
Rabin's grandson, Yonatan Ben-Artzi, though, said Netanyahu and other party leaders need to "take responsibility for your actions ... If you are stained, move aside, leave office. Go home and deal with the personal claims against you."
Netanyahu's political rival Benny Gantz also called out public officials who criticized Rabin at the time.
"At this time, some public officials are leading a delegitimization campaign whose possible result is the disintegration of Israeli society," Gantz said.
Gantz has until later this month to form a coalition government after Netanyahu failed to after September's tight national election.