Barak defies security warnings at Rabin memorial
November 4, 1999
From staff and wire reports
TEL AVIV, Israel (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak defied security warnings Thursday and spoke at a huge public memorial ceremony for his slain predecessor, Yitzhak Rabin.
Security agents feared that Barak might be the target of an assassination attempt. Rabin, Barak's mentor, was gunned down in 1995.
Refusing to be confined to the small passageway where Rabin fell victim to Yigal Amir, a right-wing Israeli who opposed the former prime minister's moderate policy toward Mideast peace, Barak strode into the nearby Rabin Square and addressed the tens of thousands at the memorial.
"We came to tell you we are not afraid," Barak repeated twice to the crowd.
"We came here to recommit to his way, we came here to tell him, 'Yitzhak, your way has won out, and we came here to say to whoever believes it possible to move us from the path of Yitzhak, 'We are not afraid, we are not afraid,'" Barak said.
The crowd picked up the chant, shouting, "Ehud, we are with you," and, "We are not afraid. We are not afraid."
The choice of words was no coincidence.
In the final days of the election campaign, Barak's opponent, right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, assailed Israeli media he characterized as favoring Barak. Supporters joined him in chanting, "They're afraid, they're afraid."
Security fears for Barak's life have grown as he makes a push for peace with the Palestinians that will involve giving up occupied land seen by many Israelis as their birthright.
In his speech, Barak appealed for tolerance, adherence to the law and acceptance of democracy.
"We are filled with confidence that we will not let this opportunity get away from us. This time we will make peace and security for Israel," Barak said to cheers.
The most immediate security concern is for Friday's deadline for settlers at four outposts to evacuate their homes or face forcible eviction next week. The order, part of the land-for-security agreement with the Palestinian Authority, was issued Wednesday by Barak.
Settlers who began to pack Thursday were angry about being forced to move. The four outposts are among 12 to be dismantled. Thirty more outposts are being allowed to remain.
Shimon Peres, who as foreign minister in Rabin's Cabinet shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Rabin and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, also spoke at the ceremony. Peres vowed to continue the pursuit of peace.
Earlier, Barak joined Rabin's widow, Leah, at a ceremony where Rabin was slain.
They unveiled a memorial wall marking the spot where, according to two plaques, "Rabin was murdered in the struggle for peace." The plaques frame a wall of graffiti scrawled by mourners on the night of the assassination.
Jerusalem Bureau Chief Walter Rodgers, and Reuters contributed to this report.
Rabin legacy casts long shadow over Barak, peace process
Israel's Institutions of Government
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