Israel Marks Anniversary of Rabin Assassination

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Israel is marking the 14th anniversary of the assassination of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin this week.

Rabin was the first Israeli leader to sign an agreement with then Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat. The agreement, which became known as the Oslo Accords after the city in which they were negotiated, was signed on the White House lawn in 1993 in the presence of former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Rabin was assassinated two years later after attending a rally that supported his policies for giving away territory to the Palestinians in exchange for promises of peace.

Israeli President Shimon Peres opened the ceremonies on Wednesday evening vowing that Rabin's goals "will not be abandoned."

Currently, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are at a standstill. Washington -- and subsequently the Palestinians -- have demanded that Israel halt all construction in what Israel sees as the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, known as the West Bank.

Israel has refused to make such a pledge saying that existing settlements need to be allowed to expand for "normal life."

From the Palestinian side, the Gaza Strip is in the hands of Hamas, listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization and hostile to any negotiated deal with Israel.

Some experts also say that it is only Israel's continued presence in the West Bank that keeps Hamas from taking over there, too.

The liberal Israeli daily Ha'aretz charged on Thursday that President Obama was taking advantage of the anniversary of Rabin's assassination to push his peace plan, which reiterates the call for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Obama was asked by Rabin's daughter to send a video-taped message to be shown at a rally on Saturday evening at the annual memorial in the Tel Aviv square where Rabin was killed.

"This is another step in Obama's attempt to speak directly to the Israeli public in light of the very low level of support he has among the Israeli public," the paper wrote.

During the last few months, several polls have indicated that only six to 10 percent of Israelis say they are supportive of Obama and that they believe he does not support Israel. 

According to the paper, Obama's advisors are concerned about his "lack of popularity" and feelings that he is hostile to Israel. They believe it will affect his ability to advance the peace process, the paper said.

Local reports say that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will arrive on Saturday evening. But the U.S. Embassy here could not confirm that her visit would take place.

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