Childhood and family

Yitzhak Rabin was born in Jerusalem on March 1, 1922. His parents, Rosa Cohen and Nehemia Rabin, were among the pioneers of the Third Aliyah. Nehemia worked for the Palestine Electricity Corporation and Rosa worked as a bookkeeper, but they expended most of their efforts on their volunteer and public activities. Rosa held senior positions in the Haganah, the Tel Aviv Municipality, the Histadrut – the workers’ union - and the educational system, and was known in the Yishuv – the Jewish community - as "Red Rosa". Nehemia was also active in the Haganah and Histadrut. 

In 1923 the family moved to Tel Aviv where Rabin spent his childhood, and where, in 1925, his sister Rachel was born. When he was 15 his mother died of an illness.

At his parents house he absorbed  values that guided him throughout his life.


The school years

In 1928 Rabin enrolled at the Educational Center for Workers' Children in Tel Aviv, an institution that was to become his second home. The school set itself the goal of molding the identity of the Israeli Sabra - the new Jew, rooted to the landscapes of Israel, working its land, defending it from marauders and ready to enlist for any mission. The school emphasized the integration of studies, work, hiking and social activities. 

Activities with the Noar Ha'Oved Ve Ha'Lomed – (Working and Studying Youth) - were a central facet of the students' life; through the movement Rabin learned about the theories of the Jewish Socialists and prepared himself for life on a Kibbutz. 

Agricultural studies were a natural progression from his schooling at the Educational Center for Workers' Children. He went on to study for two years at the Regional Agricultural School at Kibbutz Givat Hashlosha, and then, in 1937, he reached his desired destination - The Kadouri Agricultural School in Kfar Tabor to which the elite of the agricultural settlement movement sent their children. At Kadouri, Rabin met Yigal Allon who would later enlist him into the Haganah, and a deep friendship developed between the two. Kadouri was renowned for its high standards and for the unique atmosphere that existed between students and teachers. Rabin's talents soon stood out and he matriculated with high grades. He could have continued on to university,  but then the Second World War broke out and as fears grew about the war's possible effect on the Yishuv, Rabin gave up his plans and joined Kibbutz Ramat Yochanan. 

In May 1941, Rabin was called upon to take part in a military operation in Lebanon aimed at helping out the British army. It was his baptism of fire. 

The Palmach

The Palmach was set up in the summer of 1941 and Yitzhak Rabin was one of the first to join its ranks. In 1943, a few months after the Germans were routed at El Alamein, cooperation between the Haganah and the British army came to an end, and the Palmach was forced to finance itself by working on Kibbutzim. The new setup raised fears among Palmach fighters that they would end up sitting on the sidelines, while those enlisting in the British army would take part in the war against Hitler. Rabin was among those who stayed with the Palmach. He saw the founding of an independent Jewish force in Palestine as the most important mission of his generation. 

When the Palmah expanded, and its companies organized into battalions, Rabin was appointed as deputy commander of the First Battalion. 

With the end of the Second World War, the Yishuv leadership embarked on a new security policy, the main aim of which was a "struggle" to realize the fundamental goals of Zionism - Aliyah and settlement. As part of that struggle, the Haganah initiated illegal Aliyah and the founding of new settlements. Conflict with the British was unavoidable: Shiploads of Ma'apilim (illegal immigrants) making their way to Palestine failed to break through the British cordon. The Ma'apilim, who were holocaust survivors, were taken to shore and incarcerated at the Atlit detention camp. In 1945,Rabin commanded a Haganah organized force that broke into the camp in a successful raid to free the Ma'apilim. It was during this operation that Rabin first came face to face with holocaust survivors. 


In 1946 the Yishuv leadership decided to step up the struggle against the British and the Jewish Resistance Movement was founded with the participation of the Haganah, the Irgun Zva'i Leumi (National Army Organization) and the Lochamei Herut Israel (Israel Freedom Fighters). After a series of operations by the Resistance, the British clamped down: On June 29, 1946, the British army, in a wide-scale and well planned operation which was to become known as The Black Sabbath, arrested the leaders of the Yishuv and confiscated large amounts of weapons. Rabin was arrested together with his father and was sent to a detention camp. Immediately after his release some five months later he was appointed commander of the Palmach's Second Battalion, and in October, 1947 he became the Palmach's Chief Operations Officer. 




"The Palmach way of life reflected a generation of volunteering Sabras. A generation willing to work to support themselves. It represented a new kind of Israeli, a figure worthy of being a role model for youngsters. What I am talking about is the need to make do with little, and with the same innocent and genuine willingness that I and my friends had to sacrifice ourselves for the nation, and I'm telling you that's the way I lived - with that need."  

Commander in the War of Independence

On November 29, 1947 the General Assembly of the United Nations voted for the partition of Eretz Israel into Jewish and Arab states. The Jews accepted the plan, but the Arabs of Eretz Israel rejected it and in order to scuttle it , launched an assault on Jewish targets. The War of Independence had begun. 

As the Palmach's Chief Operations Officer in charge of coordination with the general staff, Rabin's primary concern was beefing up the Palmach force with munitions and men, and keeping open the way to Jerusalem, which was under constant attack from Arab villages along the route. 

At the beginning of April 1948, Rabin was seconded to the Harel force and was quickly put in charge of its HQ. He warned against the defensive policy employed to defend convoys to Jerusalem and called for offensive action against the Arab villages serving as bases for attacks on the convoys. Later that month the Harel Brigade was formed and Rabin, at the age of 24, was appointed its commander. Four days later, the Haganah decided on Operation Yevussi to take over Jerusalem as the British withdrew. Dozens of Rabin's soldiers were killed along the way to Jerusalem, and in bitter fighting inside the town. On May 14, 1948, the day of the Declaration of Independence, Rabin was with his exhausted force at the command post near Ma'ale Hachamisha. 

On June 11, the first cease-fire of the war came into effect and under cover of that cease-fire a bypass into Jerusalem, the "Burma Road", was built with the help of the Harel Brigade. The siege of Jerusalem was eased. On July 9, Operation Dani was launched to take Lod and Ramla. Yitzhak Rabin was the Operations Officer and the deputy to its commander, Yigal Alon. The sight of convoys of refugees expelled from their homes and carrying their personal belongings left a harsh impression on the Israel Defense Force soldiers. 

During the second cease-fire of the war, despite strong objections, Palmach HQ were dismantled, and its units were assimilated into the Israel Defense Forces. Now, as part of the IDF, the Palmach prepared to liberate the Negev. 

Rabin took advantage of the cease-fire and on July 19 married his girlfriend Leah Schlossberg. 

Yigal Allon was appointed Southern Front commander and most members from the Palmach HQ joined him, among them Yitzhak Rabin, who was appointed Operations Officer and Allon's deputy. As part of his duties, Rabin planned major operations against the Egyptian army. During the fighting, he was sent as Allon's representative to the cease-fire talks with the Egyptians in Rhodes. This was the first diplomatic mission of his career. Before the agreements were signed, Rabin requested to return to Israel. He did not want to be among the signatories because he was not satisfied with the withdrawal included in the accords, and, in particular, because he wanted to take part in "Operation Uvda" which was about to be launched and which he had helped to plan. 

In July 1949, when the cease-fire accords with Syria were signed, the War of Independence came to an end. 

Rabin was 27 and had to decide on his future. He wanted to go on to higher education and had received a scholarship, but decided to continue to these people his military service.

Military Service

In November 1949, Yitzhak Rabin was appointed commander of the Battalion Commanders School. Many graduates of the first battalion commanders course were Palmach veterans whom Rabin, in order to preserve the spirit and values of the Palmach, had persuaded to stay on and take up command roles in the IDF. Rabin's success paved the way for his climb up the IDF ranks. 

At the beginning of 1951 he was appointed head of the general staff operations department, where he proved himself to be an outstanding staff officer with a command of every detail of the many areas under his care and played a major role in shaping the IDF's defense doctrine. 

As a candidate for senior command posts, in November 1952 he was sent to England to study at the British army's Staff College. Shortly after returning to Israel, he was appointed head of the IDF Training Branch by the new Chief of Staff, Moshe Dayan. As head of Training Branch, Rabin acted to integrate the knowledge he had accumulated in the Palmach and in the British army, set up the IDF's training infrastructure, was among the founders of IDF's Command and Staff College and set new standards of officer training.  

In 1956, he was appointed Chief of Operations of Northern Command, where, inter alia, he was responsible for the fortification of the Israeli-controlled area of the demilitarized zones between Israel and Syria, on keeping the Sea of Galilee open to Israeli fishermen and protecting settlements coming under artillery fire. During the Sinai Campaign he remained in the North and prepared the forces under his command for the possibility of another front opening.



In 1958, after Haim Laskov was appointed Chief of Staff and Tzvi Tzur his deputy, Rabin felt that his promotion had been stopped in its tracks and planned finally to take a study leave. But that was not to be. In April 1959 the names of units called up to take part in a military drill were mistakenly broadcast on public radio. The broadcast caused panic among the Israeli public and led to emergency call-ups by the Egyptian and Syrian militaries. In the wake of the fiasco, which was dubbed the "Night of the Ducks" the head of Operations Branch was ousted and Rabin was appointed in his place. 

As head of Operations Branch, Rabin worked on formulating an overall IDF defense doctrine adapted to developments in the Middle East arena, and to technological developments, while expanding the sources of the IDF's procurement and purchasing of advanced weapons systems. Rabin also introduced cross-disciplinary military exercises. He was involved in all aspects of routine security: On the Northern front, in the water wars against the Syrians; on the Southern front, against offensive initiatives by the Egyptian army. 

As part of Rabin's drive for fast-track modernization of the IDF, the computer department was set up during his tenure as head of Operations Branch and the IDF got its first computer. During this period, Rabin also promoted the IDF's relations with militaries in Third World countries such as Ethiopia, Congo and Iran. 

In January 1961, following Tzvi Tzur’s appointment as Chief of Staff, Rabin was named Deputy Chief of Staff in parallel to his position as head of Operations Branch. The appointment reflected his senior standing in the defense establishment and marked him as a candidate for the next Chief of Staff. 

In June, 1963 Levi Eshkol was elected Prime Minister and in December that year the cabinet approved Rabin's appointment as Chief of Staff. 

Chief of Staff

Rabin's tenure as Chief of Staff was marked by the rapid military buildup of the Arab nations, who were equipping themselves with Soviet arms. Rabin was occupied primarily with preparing the IDF for the possibility of all-out war. He worked to equip the IDF with American arms and with modern technologies, and prepared it for a coordinated air, land and sea strike. At the same time, he also drew up operational plans that the IDF could use at any time. All of these were put to the test in the Six Day War and played a decisive role in Israel's swift victory. 

One of the focal points of tension was in the North, where Syria and Lebanon were attempting to divert Israeli water sources originating in their territory. Rabin objected to any initiative that included the conquest of territory in Syria and focused the IDF's response on hitting the mechanical equipment used to divert the water sources. 

Another front facing Rabin was that against Fatah, the military arm of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Rabin took the fact that Fatah had set up bases in Syria and used them to launch attacks in Israel as his justification to act against the Syrians. Comments made by Rabin against the Syrian regime in a newspaper interview met with a harsh response, and were later seen as a factor that hastened Syria's preparations for war against Israel. In response to attacks on Israeli civilians, Rabin supported attacks on enemy civilian infrastructure targets. However, in November 1966 he authorized a raid on Samwa in Jordan that led to the deaths of many Jordanians, both civilian and military. 

At the end of 1966, after Rabin had served three years as Chief of Staff, the Prime Minister decided to extend his tenure by another year. 



The Six Day War 

In 1967, in Rabin's fourth year as Chief of Staff, the Six Day War broke out. At the beginning of that year no one was thinking about war, and certainly not war with Egypt. The focus of tension was the continued clashes along the Northern border. In response to Syrian attacks, the Israeli Air Force was sent into action, and on April 7 shot down six Syrian Migs in an aerial dogfight. In response, Egypt, which had a defense pact with Syria, began to call up reserves. Egypt sent a military force into Sinai in violation of the disengagement agreements with Israel. Rabin saw this as an act of war and recommended that Israel call up its reserves. Egypt's President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, instructed the United Nations force to leave Sinai and then closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping. As far as Israel was concerned it was a declaration of war. The situation continued to deteriorate rapidly and war became inevitable. 

Rabin had an unshakable belief in the IDF's ability to win the war, and the army under his command was ready and waiting for battle. The General Staff pushed for a preemptive strike. But Rabin understood that the government need to be given time for diplomacy. Senior figures with whom he consulted undermined his belief in the IDF's ability to launch a war without the backing of a friendly power. Torn between his recognition of the need to land a preemptive blow, and his recognition of the duty to defer to the political echelons - working around the clock and smoking incessantly  - he became exhausted and simply couldn't go on. But after 24 hours rest he returned to do his job. 

Public anxiety among the public during what was labeled the Countdown Period led to the foundation of a National Unity Government. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol was forced to give up the defense portfolio to Moshe Dayan who was appointed Defense Minister. On June 4, the government decided to go to war and on June 5, in an operation involving almost all its planes, the Air Force attacked the airbases and air forces of Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Jordan, dealing them a mortal blow. This crushing attack opened the way for armored corp and infantry to move into the Sinai Peninsula. The Egyptian army was overcome within days and withdsrew to the Suez Canal. In the wake of Jordanian attacks around Jerusalem a second front was launched. Two days later, IDF forces had taken over the entire West Bank and East Jerusalem, and had reached the Western Wall. On the fifth day of the war, once the Egyptian and Jordanian armies had been defeated, the IDF attacked the Syrians in the Golan Heights. Once the Golan Heights had been taken a cease-fire came into effect and the threat to the northern settlements was removed.

Rabin monitored the Air Force operation from Air Force headquarters. Once the results became clear he moved to the "Bor" - the IDF's underground command center. From there he supervised the execution of the battle plans, and from there he headed out for tours of the battle arenas. With the exception of a visit to Jerusalem after the liberation of the Western Wall, Rabin refrained from high-profile visits and gave few interviews. At the end of the war it was a different Israel - the territory controlled by Israel had grown three fold and it now had responsibility for 1.5 million Palestinians. The dispute over Israel's borders, which had ostensibly ended after the War of Independence, had now been reopened. 

For his part in the victory, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem decided to bestow upon Major General Yitzhak Rabin an honorary doctorate as an expression of the gratitude the Israeli public felt toward the architect of victory. 

In a speech summing up the campaign, Rabin, without arrogance or glee in the victory, stressed the heavy cost of the war to both the victors and the defeated nations. 

Ambassador to the United States

At the beginning of 1968, after 27 years of military service, Yitzhak Rabin hung up his uniform and was appointed to his first civil post: Israel's ambassador to the United States. His first year in the post was a presidential election year in the United States and Rabin used that time to study the apparatus of American government, to get to know the prominent figures in the American media and to develop relations with the Jewish community and with the heads of the important Jewish organizations.  

Contrary to traditional Jewish support for the Democratic Party, Rabin openly supported the Republican presidential candidate, Richard Nixon. 

A previous acquaintance with Nixon, and observation of the views he expressed in the presidential campaign, convinced Rabin that Nixon would be a better ally for Israel. Nixon's victory and his choice of Henry Kissinger to head of the National Security Council created the conditions for Rabin's great achievements as ambassador. Despite the then existing tensions between Israel and the United States over the administration's plans for a Middle East settlement, and Israel's objections to those plans, Rabin managed to foster special relations between the two nations. His efforts to gain the agreement of Golda Meir's government to a cease-fire in the Suez Canal were critical in achieving the annulment of the American embargo on the supply of Phantom jets to Israel. 

In September 1970, Nixon asked Israel, via Rabin, to help King Hussein of Jordan deter Syrian and Palestinian attempts to threaten his regime. Rabin backed the request and worked to persuade the prime minister to do the same even at the cost of war with Syria. In the end, Hussein managed to defeat the uprising by himself, but Israel's willingness to assist him strengthened cooperation between Israel and the United States, led to an increase in the economic aid that Israel received, and improved relations between the King and Israel.



Like her predecessor Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir saw Rabin as an ambassador with special status and opened up direct channels of communication with him. In the second half of his term Rabin established his standing as a diplomat, and as a candidate for senior political posts in Israel. He learned to admire American democracy and the achievements of free-market economics. His connections with the heads of the administration and with the Jewish communities deepened, and he was widely admired. 

The death of Egypt's president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, in 1970, and the election of Anwar Sadat in his place, changed the political map of the Middle East. The American administration saw the changes as a window of opportunity to promote accords between Israel and its neighbors, and stepped up efforts to achieve intermediate accords. Rabin supported the idea of progress in stages and was aware of the dangers inherent in Sadat's proposals for an accord with Israel. He believed that an IDF withdrawal deep into the Sinai, together with the opening of the Suez Canal, would pave the path for an accord with Egypt and strengthen the alliance with the United States. He warned the government that its refusal to accept the American plan would lead to an enforced agreement or even to a flare-up of hostilities. But Golda Meir's government stuck to its position. 

The elections for the Eighth Knesset were around the corner and Rabin expressed his desire to return to Israel. 

First term as Prime minister of Israel

Member of Knesset for the Alignment 

On March 1973, after serving five years as ambassador, Yitzhak Rabin returned to Israel and joined the Labor Party. Ahead of the elections in December, the party's  elections committee placed him 20th on a list headed by Golda Meir. About a month-and-a-half before the elections however it transpired that Israel was not headed to an election campaign, but to a war. 

On October 6, 1973 the Yom Kippur War broke out unexpectedly. For the first time in years, Rabin found himself without position or authority. His attempts to be enlisted to work under one of the generals failed, and on the fourth day of the war he took up Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir's offer to head the Emergency Loan Fund to raise money to cover the war expenses. 

In the elections held in December immediately after the war the Labor Party lost seats. But it was still able to form a government and Rabin was appointed Labor Minister in the second Golda Meir administration. On April 2, 1974 the Agranat Report on the failures of the Yom Kippur War was released. The report did not address the functioning of the political echelon but laid the blame solely with the military leadership. Rabin expressed his reservations at the decision to place full responsibility on the Chief of Staff, David Elazar. The public did not accept the report's conclusions. Protests swelled, and the politicians were called upon to pay the price. On April 11, under public pressure, Prime Minister Golda Meir resigned and the Labor Party set out to appoint a replacement. Rabin was a surprise candidate for the senior post, but the fact that he was  blameless for the failures of the war, and the support he enjoyed from a significant faction of Mapai veterans saw him leapfrog the other candidates. The party chose him to take the place of Golda Meir as Prime Minister.     



First term as Prime Minister

Rabin took office on June 3, 1974. During his three years as Prime Minister he guided a policy that reflected the Labor Party's continuity of power , but also the changing of the guard within the party and its willingness for change. 

Rabin saw resumption of the peace initiative and progress towards peace as a critical mission and opened the way for negotiations with Egypt for an interim accord mediated by the American Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. The accord, signed on September 1, 1975, was one of his major achievements as prime minister, and was reached after tough negotiations marked by constant crises. Rabin later saw the interim accord as the first step toward the full peace agreement with Egypt that was signed four years later by the Likud government headed by Menachem Begin. Subsequent to the signing of the interim accords, a "Memorandum of Understanding" was reached with the American administration of Gerald Ford, under which the United States undertook far-reaching obligations to Israel's security and economy. 

As part of Rabin's attempts to promote dialogue with neighboring countries he held secret meetings with King Hussein and made the first secret visit by an Israeli prime minister to the King of Morocco. 

While working toward progress on the peace front, Rabin had, at the same time, to deal with PLO terrorism against Israeli citizens. He opposed any negotiations with the PLO and claimed that the Palestinian problem could only be solved within a Jordanian framework. He adopted an uncompromising "strong arm" policy toward Palestinian supporters of the organization.  

In Rabin's second year in office, Gush Emunim (Community of the Faithful) established a settlement in Sebastia in Samaria. Rabin opposed Jewish settlement in Arab population centers, but avoided conflict with the settlers. After some hesitation he authorized the founding of a Jewish settlement at Kedumim. The road was thus paved for the settlement movement that he had opposed, to march on. 


On March 30, 1976, during a demonstration by Galilee Arabs against the appropriation of their lands, that was to became known as "Land Day", security forces opened fire on the demonstrators killing six of them. The events led to harsh reaction from the Arab, as well as among the Jewish public, and convinced Rabin to rethink the state's relations with the Arab minority. 

Throughout Rabin's term in office, the economy continued to expand, the social safety net was kept in place and social divides narrowed. These successes gained Rabin public esteem and the Entebbe Operation to free hostages from an Air France plane hijacked to Uganda raised his standing in the world. But corruption scandals in the higher echelons of the Labor Party and the residues of the Yom Kippur War, with which the party was associated, overshadowed the achievements of his government and aroused many against it. 

On December 10, 1976 the first F-15 jets arrived from the United States. They landed after the Sabbath had come in, causing a coalition crisis with the religious parties. On December 21, hoping that bringing forward the elections would increase his party's strength, Rabin submitted his resignation to the President. From then until the elections for a new Knesset, Rabin's government operated as a caretaker government. 

As Rabin was preparing for the elections, it was revealed that his wife held a bank account in the United States, an act that was illegal at the time. Following the decision to prosecute her, Rabin resigned after three years in office. Shimon Peres was appointed to replace him.  

Rabin's decision to take joint responsibility for an offense committed by his wife gained him great public esteem.   

"I can no longer be the party's candidate for prime minister. Not because of the gravity of the offense... but because I have committed an offense, even if it is only technical, and I must act according to my upbringing, tradition and my principles and pay the price. This applies to every citizen, all the more so to a prime minister asking for the people's vote for another term in office." 

The opposition years 

The elections, held on May 17, 1977, saw the Labor Party lose power. For the first time the Likud under Menahem Begin headed a coalition government. Labor went into opposition. As an MK Rabin watched Sadat's visit to Israel with excitement. Despite his reservations regarding clauses concerning the disbanding of settlements in the Sinai, Rabin voted in favor of the peace agreement with Egypt. 

In 1979 he published his memoirs Pinkas Sherut in which he reviewed his military career and settled scores with his political rivals, in particular Shimon Peres. From his small office in the Kirya in Tel Aviv, which been allocated to him as a former prime minister, he wrote frequently for the newspapers, met with old friends and tried to revive his following in the Labor Party.

In the 1981 Labor Party primaries for a candidate for prime minister, Rabin backed Yigal Allon. But after Allon's sudden death in February 1980, he announced his intention to run. Peres won the top spot, but Likud won the general elections.   

On June 6, 1982 Operation Peace for Galilee was launched to protect the Northern settlements. Rabin initially supported the war, but as it went on and its goals were expanded he warned against the IDF getting bogged down in the "Lebanese mud" and called for IDF forces to be withdrawn to a security zone from whence they could protect Israel's Northern border.   

"We unequivocally opposed any initiative that would try to impose a new order in Lebanon through the use of IDF force."

Minister of Defense

After the elections of July 23, 1984 neither of the big parties had enough seats to form a government and a National Unity Government was formed. Under the terms of the agreement between the Labor Party and Likud, Shimon Peres served for the first two years as prime minister before handing over the baton to Yitzhak Shamir. Peres appointed Rabin as Defense Minister and Shamir kept him in the job until the end of the third National Unity Government  he headed, in 1990. 


During his term as Defense Minister, Rabin worked for a staged IDF withdrawal from Lebanon and entrenched the IDF's control of the security zone. Contrary to all his predecessors, Rabin agreed to a cut in the defense budget, a move that was made possible by Egypt's withdrawal from the circle of conflict. His agreement to the "Jibril prisoner swap" in which 1,150 Palestinian prisoners were exchanged for the release of three Israeli soldiers, caused great public controversy, but responsibility for the lives of the Israeli prisoners tipped the scales in favor of the deal. 



When the Intifada broke out Rabin at first failed to recognize its singularity. For the first months Rabin believed that there was a military solution to the popular uprising and tried to suppress it by force. His policies appeared immoral and ineffective to the left, and insufficient to the right. After a few months of fighting he was persuaded that the uprising reflected authentic Palestinian national aspirations that Israel could no longer ignore. The Palestinians' willingness to accept casualties caught him by surprise and led to the recognition that a policy of force alone would not lead to calm. Rabin was aware of the growth of a local Palestinian leadership and for the first time saw it as a partner for negotiations. Meanwhile, fears were growing of the influence of the Intifada on the IDF's esprit de corps and on its standing as the people's army. 


In 1989 Rabin formulated a two-stage peace agreement in which he proposed that elections be allowed in the territories to choose a local leadership that would manage the Palestinian autonomy agreed upon in the Camp David Accords, and ensure calm in the territories. The second stage of the initiative was to be negotiations with the elected leadership over a permanent status agreement. Under American pressure the plan received the support of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. 


In 1990, the National Unity Government collapsed and the Labor Party returned to opposition.  
 

Second term as Prime Minister

 Israel is waiting for Rabin 

As a civilian and as an ordinary MK outside the decision making process, Rabin followed the Gulf War which changed the balance of power in the Middle East. The response of the Israeli home front during the war sharpened his feeling that the Israeli public had tired of war and was willing to pay the price of peace. He saw the collapse of the Soviet Union, which had been at the heart of anti-Israeli activity in the region, as a historic opportunity to make progress toward peace. The agreements reached between the powers at the Madrid Conference in October 1991 were seen by Rabin as lending further weight to this thesis. He believed that the new circumstances had created a window of opportunity for peace and that Israel should hasten to exploit this opportunity before the introduction of nuclear weapons into the region, which would endanger the very existence of the state. 

The waves of immigration from the Soviet Union and the economic potential they generated strengthened his belief that Israel could now take risks. He knew that for this purpose brave leadership was required, and believed in his ability to fulfill the task. After Rabin's defeat of Shimon Peres in the internal Labor Party primaries, the party launched an intensive election campaign. Seen as having both credibility, as a "Mr. Security" pressing for peace and the trust of the general public, Rabin led a campaign under the slogan "Israel is waiting for Rabin". 

"We live in an era of danger that unconventional arms will enter the Middle East arena... thus, looking ahead seven to 10 years, we must promote the peace process."

Prime Minister once again  

The Mahapach - revolution - that brought the Labor Party back to power recrowned Rabin as Prime Minister. He stuck firm to his commitments and changed the national agenda: budgets for education, welfare, infrastructure, outlying communities and for the Arab sector were all significantly increased at the expense of those for the settlements and defense. Financial guarantees from the United States for the absorption of immigrants from the former Soviet Union helped to facilitate execution of his plans and breathed new life into the country's economy. Rabin's support for privatization gained him the support of the business sector. 

Determined to integrate Israel rapidly into the age of global reconciliation, to lead a daring diplomatic move to peace with Israel's neighbors and to solve the Palestinian problem, Rabin declared his willingness to make territorial compromises. He immediately renewed the peace talks with the Palestinians and Syria, which had begun after the Madrid Conference. He saw the Palestinian problem as the heart of the conflict, but when he saw that talks in Washington with representatives from the territories had come to a dead end, he promoted the Syrian track in the hope that its very existence would accelerate progress on the Palestinian track as well. 

His security policy moved on two parallel tracks: while lifting restrictions on the Palestinian civilian population he continued a tough policy toward terrorists and rioters. In an extraordinary step he decided to expel 415 Hamas activists who had been involved in terrorist attacks. He responded to Katyusha rocket fire on the North with Operation Accountability. 



When he was informed of the existence of secret talks in Oslo he authorized their continuation despite his skepticism, and turned them into an official channel of dialogue. He agreed to the PLO coming in as a party to the talks only after receiving a letter of commitment from Yasser Arafat stating the PLO's recognition of Israel's right to exist and the renunciation of terrorism. 

On September 13, 1993, in a festive ceremony on the lawns of the White House, with the participation of the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, the Oslo Accords were signed. The Accords laid the foundation for a permanent status agreement that was to include the foundation of a Palestinian entity alongside Israel. Speeches by Rabin and Arafat and the historic handshake between the two were the high point of the ceremony and became a symbol of hope in Israel and around the world. Alongside joy and elation, the accords also awakened fears of the inherent dangers and exacerbated the dispute between its supporters and opponents. The political and public protests against Oslo were led by the settler movement. The massacre of Muslim worshippers by a Jewish extremist at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron reflected the growing tensions in Israeli society. Rabin considered disbanding the Jewish settlement in Hebron, but in the end left it in place.

The Peace Treaty with Jordan

With the signing of the Gaza-Jericho Agreement and the recognition of the Palestinians as a national entity, conditions had matured for a peace agreement with Jordan. Relations with the Jordanian kingdom had been built up over the years via secret meetings between King Hussein and a succession of Israeli leaders, including Rabin. In May 1994 a decisive secret meeting was held between Rabin and Hussein and the foundations were laid for a peace agreement. Generous assistance offered by the United States to Jordan gave the final push to the move. On October 26, 1994 the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace was signed in the Arava (the desert between Aqaba and Eilat), and the final borders between the two countries were set. The treaty was an important milestone in the development of relations with Arab and other Muslim countries 

A string of suicide bombings by Palestinian opponents of the peace process hit innocent civilians in Israel’s urban centers and dealt a blow to hopes that the region had embarked on an era of prosperity and growth.

“It is not only our states that are making peace with each other today, not only our nations that are shaking hands in peace here in the Arava. You and I, your Majesty, are making peace here, our own peace, the peace of soldiers and the peace of friends.”   



Oslo 2

The award of the Nobel Peace Prize in December 1994 symbolized the world’s honor and esteem for the peace makers and was an expression of encouragement and hope that they would continue their efforts and bring the difficult process to fruition.

But the mood among the Israeli public was different. The resumption of peace talks with Syria had created a new camp of opponents who were opposed to any concessions in the Golan Heights. Terrorist attacks went on unabated and even intensified, and the split in Israeli society deepened. But Rabin was determined to press ahead with the peace process.

In September 1995 an agreement was reached on a timetable for execution of the Oslo Accords and on ways to implement the accords. The agreement was signed in Washington and was dubbed Oslo 2. Opponents of the agreement prepared to block its execution. They arranged demonstrations and protests against its instigator, Yitzhak Rabin. The incitement the protesters fermented was taken by extremists as a license to kill.

The night of the murder

Goodbye Friend

The peace camp, which had looked on in hope at the progress of the talks, was shocked by the ferocity of the opposition to the agreements and decided to give a public show of support for the government's moves. A rally on November 4, 1995 drew masses to the Kings of Israel Square in Tel Aviv. The demonstrators expressed their support for the agreements and for Rabin's leadership. Even though Rabin had not at first been enthusiastic about the idea of the rally, he accepted the organizers' invitation and agreed to speak from center stage. With the masses cheering, Rabin felt for a moment that he had a powerful camp behind him. After the rally, as he headed to his car, a Jewish assassin shot him three times in the back.

The Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, has been assassinated.

On Saturday evening, November 4, 1995 - the 12th of Heshvan, 5756 - Yitzhak Rabin came to the Kings of Israel Square to participate in a rally under the slogan "Yes to Peace-No to Violence".

After a warm and supportive rally, at which the crowd expressed its faith in him and its love for him, as he headed for his car, Yitzhak Rabin was shot and mortally wounded by a Jewish assassin.

Yizhak Rabin passed away at Ichilov Hospital at 23:14 after all attempts by doctors to save him had failed.