President Katsav: No pardon for prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin

President Moshe Katsav vowed Thursday that he would never grant a pardon to Yigal Amir – the extreme right wing activist who assassinated former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin at a peace rally in Tel Aviv in November 1995. Katsav was speaking as events marking the 10th anniversary of Rabin’s assassination got underway Thursday morning with the lighting of the „Yitzhak Candle” at the president’s residence in Jerusalem. „I will not trim [Amir’s] punishment and I will recommend that those who succeed me [as president] also deny him pardon,” Katsav said. Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday at a separate memorial for Rabin that „From the distance of time and perspective, Yitzhak Rabin’s Oslo Agreement brought on a process of disillusionment by the Israel public and the formation of a more realistic, sober and balanced perception of the moves Israel has to make.” At a convention held at Kibbutz Ma’aleh Hachamisha, Olmert added that if it were not for the Oslo process, the timetable that led to the disengagement from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank would have been different. „The Oslo agreement had its weaknesses but it was also justified. There is no doubt that it forced Israeli society to self examination that lead to the conclusion that Israel must return to its correct borders and that it should be a Jewish and democratic state,” Olmert said. He added that Rabin took so that Jerusalem and the Temple Mount would remain in Israeli hands under any diplomatic circumstance, and would have continued to do so had he been alive today. „That is part of the political testimony Rabin left us,” Olmert said. Dalia Rabin, the late prime minister’s daughter and chair of the Rabin Center, said: „Lighting the Yitzhak Candle takes us back to the days of ‘the candle kids,’ who stood in the square in shock and sought answers; the answers must be provided by Israeli society to the future generations, and that is what the Rabin Center’s activity is about.” Dozens of private and public events are scheduled to take place around the country. There will be some duplication in events because of the disparity between the date of the murder according to the Gregorian calendar, which falls this year on Friday, and the Hebrew calendar, as well as to accommodate the visit to Israel by former U.S. president Bill Clinton. Family members alone will assemble Friday at Rabin’s grave on Mount Herzl. The state memorial service will take place on Monday. The high point will be a commemorative assembly next Saturday at Rabin Square, at which Clinton will speak. Other definite speakers include Shimon Peres and Rabin’s grandson, Yonatan Ben-Artzi. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will not attend the assembly, reportedly because of the security measure his presence would require. Another key event will be the dedication of the new Rabin Center, attended by Bill and Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s adviser Osama El-Baz, and other world leaders.