‘Beyond a conspiracy’: Smotrich blames Israel’s security agency for Rabin assassination

Political and security figures slam the Religious Zionist leader for spreading conspiracy theories. 

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Politicians and security figures blasted Religious Zionism party head Betzalel Smotrich for spreading “conspiracy theories” about the murder of prime minister Yitzchak Rabin on the 27th anniversary of his assassination.

Speaking from the Knesset podium Sunday night during the official commemoration, Smotrich said, “Those who failed to protect [Rabin] were not the people of the Right and Religious Zionism, not the settlers, but the security agency that not only failed to guard him but also used irresponsible manipulations that to this day have not been fully exposed, in order to encourage the killer to carry out his deed.”

Smotrich did not contest that Yigal Amir, a right-winger who believed Rabin was endangering the Jewish people for signing and sticking to the Oslo Accords while hundreds of Jews were being killed in Palestinian terror attacks, was the murderer.

Amir is serving a life sentence without parole for the assassination, which took place as Rabin was leaving a peace rally in Tel Aviv in 1995.

Some theories that have gone further, saying that Amir only had blanks in his gun and that Rabin was murdered by security forces in the car taking him away from the scene after the supposed gunshots rang out, because he was wavering in his commitment to the Accords.

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Current and former members of the Shin Bet, or its acronym Shabak, Israel’s security agency, immediately lashed back at the effort to “discredit an organization whose entire mission is countering terrorism in any form and protecting the security of the state.”

While admitting that security on the ground and intelligence personnel botched their jobs in “the biggest failure in the Shabak’s history from the day it was created,” Dvir Kariv, a senior member of the Shabak’s Jewish desk at the time of the murder, who was also involved in its investigation, told Ynet Radio that he was shocked at what he’d heard.

Smotrich’s accusation was of something “beyond a conspiracy,” he noted. “The bottom line of what he said was that the General Security Service planned Rabin’s murder…

“He claims that we did actions meant to convince the killer to carry out his deed.”

A Shabak agent, Avishai Raviv, who infiltrated Jewish right-wing groups that protested the Accords in the months prior to the murder, was put on trial in 1998 for failure to prevent a crime and praising acts of violence and incitement to racism, but he was acquitted on all charges.

Many right-wingers were not convinced by the verdict, still believing that he played an active role in egging on those, including Amir, who believed Rabin had committed treason by setting up the Palestinian Authority.

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Politicians from across the spectrum condemned Smotrich unequivocally.

Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) said, “The record for gall was broken when a designated minister used the parliamentary memorial to Rabin to spread a conspiracy theory and accuse the Shabak of murder.”

Former chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot (National Unity) said Smotrich’s allegations were “extreme,” and “a false and wrong accusation.” He asked that Smotrich’s fellow coalition members condemn him as well.

Likud MK Avi Dichter, a former head of the Shabak, told Reshet Bet Radio Monday that “throwing mud of this magnitude at the Shin Bet, these are dark words.”

There were no “manipulations,” he said, suggesting that his soon-to-be partner in government “influence the future, and not try to influence the past.”

Smotrich hit back at his critics, saying, “It is very unfortunate that the Shin Bet shirks responsibility for its failures in Rabin’s murder. The inability of a state body to accept factual criticism and to make amends should worry every Israeli citizen.”