Netanyahu blasts treatment of Likud MK at Rabin memorial

“Those who defend the freedom of expression try to silence anyone who disagrees with them,” PM Netanyahu said after one of his ministers was booed at a rally.

By Jack Gold, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the treatment of Likud Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, a member of his government, at a Saturday evening rally marking the 23rd anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Demonstrators heckled and booed Hanegbi from the moment he ascended the podium until he left at an event held at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, the site where the Labor Party leader was gunned down in 1995 by assassin Yigal Amir who opposed the Oslo Accords.

Netanyahu slammed the rally’s organizers, tweeting Saturday, “It is regrettable that the memorial ceremony for the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin became a politicized event.”

“Those who defend the freedom of expression try to silence anyone who disagrees with them,” he wrote.

Tens of thousands attended the rally held under the banner, “The moderate majority stands in the square against the national rift and incitement.”

Hanegbi, who serves as Netanyahu’s Minister of Regional Cooperation, was heckled and shouted at through bullhorns. Signs accused him of incitement. Despite the abuse, Hanegbi didn’t regret coming, according to Israel Hayom.

“I spoke to the nation, and the heart of the nation. I am happy that I came to speak,” he said.

Minister of Education Naftali Bennett tweeted: “The leftist demonstration is a disgrace. The Right didn’t kill Rabin, Yigal Amir did. I am tired of the left’s annual false accusations.”

Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein turned down an invitation to address the ceremony when it became apparent that the event would retain its left-wing orientation.

“I thought that nearly 25 years after the vile assassination we could overcome our political biases and organize an event that would unite people behind the fundamental values of Israeli society. But unfortunately, it seems the readiness for that has not arrived yet,” Edelstein wrote in a letter announcing his cancellation.

The commemoration was not an official government event but was organized by the group Darkenu, which describes itself as a “non-partisan civil society movement.”  Darkenu consists of several left-wing groups, including V-15 and OneVoice, which made headlines for working with the U.S. State Department against Netanyahu during the 2015 elections.