November 5, 1995
Web posted at: 1:30 a.m. EST (0630 GMT)
TEL AVIV, Israel (CNN) -- As dawn broke over Israel Sunday, it is not so much the dawn of a new day as it was the beginning of a week of mourning for the slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The 73-year-old leader was shot and killed by a Jewish law student after a peace rally in King's Square in Tel Aviv on Saturday.
On Sunday, Rabin's body will be brought by military escort from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, where it will lie in state outside the Israeli Knesset, or parliament, until the funeral on Monday.
Escorting Prime Minister Rabin's funeral cortege will be members of his old soldiers' brigade, the men he fought alongside during the war of independence in 1948.
Rabin's death has left a void. His government has now become a transitional one. President Ezer Weizman must decide whether acting Prime Minister Shimon Peres or opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu is capable of pulling together a government.
Peres appears to have the better chance, in light of the fact that the opposition's attempts to control the government have failed so far. But the seats in the Knesset reflect that the government has a slim hold, with 61 of the 120 seats.
The chosen leader will have 21 days in which to form a government. However, the president can grant an extra 21 days, if need be. If the new leader doesn't fulfill the requirements for a new government in the time allotted, then he must return his mandate to the president.
It promises to be a fierce and intense competition as both main parties vie for the support of the smaller parties.
With the demands of acting prime minister, as well as the pursuit of small party support, Peres will find it difficult to carve out time for peace negotiations with the Palestinians or with Syria.
Israeli law says that a transitional government has all of the powers of an ordinary one. However, the opposition party will argue that the transitional government does not have the moral authority to make extensive territorial decisions.
In any case, it is a time of soul-searching for Israelis. It is not an easy time, because now they must ask themselves why this has happened and where should they go from here.
Rabin's last words to those who were devoted to peace will be his legacy. Speaking to those gathered at the peace rally shortly before he was killed, the prime minister said:
"The peace is an open door to economic and social progress. The peace is not only in prayer but it is the true desire of the Jewish people.
There are enemies to the peace process, and they are trying to hurt us, in order to destroy it.
I want to say we have found partners in the peace among the Palestinians. The PLO was an enemy. Without partners to the peace, there is no peace."
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