Thousands of people attended a rally in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square last night to mark twenty-four years since the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in the square, then known as Kings of Israel Square (Kikar Malchei Yisrael). There were organized contingents from the Blue and White, Labor-Gesher, and Democratic Union political parties and from organizations such as Peace Now and Women Make Peace.
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, who has been given a mandate to form a new government following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's failure to do so after the general election held on September 17, was the main speaker at the rally. Commenting on public political discourse in Israel, he said, "Leaders of the right, the center and the left must curb people with unbridled tongues. The country's leaders need to unite against incitement and destructive division."
Gantz spoke about his efforts to form a government: "The government I seek to form will represent all sections of the people. It will be a government of unity and reconciliation, a liberal unity government that accepts each and every person, as individuals and as groups. I am committed to standing here next year as prime minister and to bringing the leader of the opposition with me," Gantz said, to enthusiastic applause from the crowd.
In the second half of his speech, Gantz talked about the tension on Israel's southern border, where the IDF attacked target in response to rocket fire over the weekend. "Like Yitzhak Rabin, my colleagues and I come to the leadership of the country after serving as chiefs of staff. The State of Israel faces many security challenges, and unfortunately residents of the south spent the weekend in shelters. Yitzhak Rabin had the courage to sign peace agreement with our fiercest enemies. In the government that I shall form, we shall restore deterrence and we will know how to fight, but we shall also restore hope in the same way as Yitzhak Rabin would have done were he with us here today. We shall not hesitate to smite any enemy with an iron fist, but equally we shall not hesitate to shake the hands of leaders of Arab countries.
"We are all brothers in the same nation; we are all partners in the same journey," Gantz added, "We are embarking on the most important struggle - the struggle for peace among ourselves."
Later on, Shimon Sheves, who was director-general of the Prime Minister's Office during Yitzhak Rabin's second term as prime minister, also spoke at the rally, and compared Gantz's approach to Israel's Arab community and other minorities to that of Rabin.
Among the performers at last night's really were Achinoam Nini and Aviv Geffen, who performed in the square twenty-four years ago in November 1995, when Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated as he left a peace rally.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 3, 2019
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