Rabin assassination anniversary to be downgraded

The memorial events for the 15th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin's assassination began this week under growing controversy over his legacy.

A series of events marked the anniversary of the former prime minister's killing beginning with a ceremony at the President's residence in Jerusalem including a memorial service at his grave on Mount Herzl and a special Knesset session.

In the years since assassination, these events have become a national tradition. But the main event of all, the mass rally at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, where the prime minister was slain following a peace rally on November 4, 1995, will be held this year for the last time.

Tel Aviv Municipality and the organising committee have decided along with the Rabin family to move the event from next year to a smaller venue. In the first years following Mr Rabin's death, hundreds of thousands of Israelis attended the annual rally but in recent years, attendance has been sparse.

The decision to search for a new form for the main public event is part of a wider ambivalence in the Israeli public over Mr Rabin's legacy and murder. Over the years, there has been criticism, mainly from the right wing, that the annual events were being used by the parties of the left for political purposes.

The controversy has even entered Rabin's Labor party where this week, one Knesset member, Einat Wilf, even proposed that his portrait be removed from the party's meeting room as it symbolises, in her opinion, "the party's desperation and we need symbols of renewal".

MK Wilf's suggestion was condemned by other party members. They accused her of joining elements on the right who have tried to diminish Mr Rabin's historical stature.

Last updated: 3:12pm, October 21 2010