18:41 GMT03 April 2020
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    Thousands flocked to the centre of Tel Aviv on Saturday to mark 24th anniversary since the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, murdered by a Jewish extremist on Nov 4th, 1995.

    The annual rally featured political speeches including that of Blue and White party Chief Benny Gantz who vowed to unite the Israeli public and put an end to the rift between right and left-wingers. "Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated because of incitement and hatred...but Israel will not surrender to it," he said in his speech.

    "Rabin didn't imagine that things would turn out the way they did," said Jacques Neriah, former political advisor to Yitzhak Rabin, referring to the wave of terrorist attacks that followed after the Oslo accords of 1993, mass demonstrations against him, where he was called a traitor and his subsequent assassination by Igal Amir. "And it is hard to predict what he would have done, had he known the costs he had to pay," he added.

    Rabin, who served as Israel's Prime Minister for two terms, first in 1974 and second in 1992, is mainly remembered for his role in the Six-Day War, when he served as Israel's Chief of Staff. It was his doctrine - based on movement and surprise - that lead the country to victory in the blitz war of 1967.

    During his second tenure as Israel's Prime Minister, Rabin signed two historic agreements. One was the peace treaty with Jordan in 1994, and the other was the Olso accords with the former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 1993.

    While Rabin was excited about the relations with Jordan, he was hesitant about the Palestinians. In fact, Neriah says he was so hesitant that he didn't want to sit down for talks with the Palestinian leader and was rather caught up in a whirlwind.

    The Oslo Accords - Fatal Mistake?

    "Rabin was not involved in negotiations at all, letting his foreign minister Shimon Peres take the lead. When he realized that a deal was on the horizon, and that that deal was not good for the Jewish state, he interfered but it was too late to back down," he said.

    Rabin was sceptical by nature and trusted nobody but himself, said the former aide. "We often joked that Yitzhak only trusted Rabin and vice versa," recalled Neriah stressing that Rabin did open up to very few people. He was one of them.

    In one of these conversations about life and politics, Rabin confided to Neriah that he never intended to establish an independent Palestinian state. Rather "he wanted to give Palestinians something less than a state and more than an autonomy," said former aide. At the same time, he was terrified that Israel would lose its Jewish majority if a solution to the Palestinian issue was not found.

    "He once told me that had he known the position of Arafat, he would have never agreed to meet him, let alone sign an agreement with him," said Neriah, who served as Rabin's bridge to the Arab world due to his Lebanese background and knowledge of Arabic. 

    Although in front of cameras and in talks with the Americans, Arafat displayed serious intentions, Rabin believed that behind closed doors he supported attacks against the Jewish state, denied the country's right to exist and dreamed of claiming all Palestinian territories back.

    But Rabin had no choice but to strike a deal. 

    "He was a timid man that was unable to confront his rivals, including Shimon Peres, who was pushing for the agreement. Plus he was also pressured by the Americans who demanded a breakthrough on the Syrian front, forcing Rabin to negotiate with the former Syrian leader Hafez Al Asad," noted the former aide.

    The American administration under Clinton was determined to secure a deal between Israel and its Arab neighbours. Israel had to choose between one of the two options: to sit down for talks with Asad, something that would result in Israel's giving up on the strategic Golan Heights that were conquered in 1967, or sealing a deal with the Palestinians.

    Neriah, who was Rabin's man when it came to negotiations with the Arab world, says he remembers clearly how the decision on what path to take was made.

    "It was a room full of top brass, politicians and top advisors. Rabin asked us if we had to choose between the two agreements, what would it be. The decision was unanimous: everyone wanted a peace deal with Syria. Rabin then stood up and said: "well, I don't envy that prime minister of Israel, who will need to give up on the Golan Heights," he recalls Rabin saying.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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