Knesset session in memory of Regavam Ze'evi
Knesset session in memory of Regavam Ze'eviDani Shem Tov - Knesset Spokesperson

A special session was held in the Knesset Wednesday in memory of Rehavam "Gandhi" Ze'evi, Israel's former Tourism Minister who was assassinated by a Palestinian Arab terrorist 20 years ago.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said: "Gandhi dedicated his life to strengthening the bond between the people of Israel and the Land of Israel. Gandhi was not afraid to fight for his views even if they took him outside the consensus."

"Gandhi was a soldier of the Land of Israel until his last day - a stubborn, tight and uncompromising soldier," Bennett added, "he continued to fight for his opinions, beliefs, his concern for the Land of Israel and its future."

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu paid tribute to Rahavam Ze'evi and also attacked the government: "Unfortunately, the current government does not fight terrorism. It embodies an abysmal weakness in this and other areas, so it did not respond to rocket fire on Kiryat Shmona and machine gun fire on Sderot. Gandhi would have criticized their failures to deal with the coronavirus and their acceptance of the Iran nuclear deal."

''Gandhi would not accepted a government headed by someone who barely crossed the electoral threshold and is dependent on the Islamic Movement. He would not reconcile with a government that is 180 degrees to the left. His voice is silent, but his cry can still be heard today.

Netanyahu continued: "Gandhi would shout at the rush of ministers to Mahmoud Abbas so that the red would return to his cheeks. Gandhi would protest the discrimination against IDF soldiers who did not receive any increase in their salaries while NIS 53 billion was promised to Ra'am. Ghandi would attacked with a frenzy the coronavirus failures, the harm to farmers, the acceptance of the nuclear agreement being formed with Iran. Gandhi's personal voice is missing, but his cry is heard by the masses of Israel's citizens."

Most MKs were absent from the special meeting in memory of Ze'evi, including MKs from the Yesh Atid, Blue and White, Labor, Meretz, Ra'am factions and the Joint Arab List. The Yesh Atid faction said in response to the absence of its MKs: "Each MK chose at his discretion whether to enter or not. There was no factional decision, and certainly not an instruction from above."

Knesset Speaker Miki Levy said at the beginning of the session: "The assassination of Minister Ze'evi had been planned and organized for a long time. They followed him and gathered intelligence about his itinerary. The cold-blooded decision to assassinate a minister in Israel was and still is a crossing of all red lines. This was a criminal attack on the State of Israel, its symbols and unbearable violation of its sovereignty and rule."

"On a personal level, I remember that terrible morning as the commander of the Jerusalem district. I quickly arrived at the Hyatt Hotel, which is a few minutes from the General Staff of the Israel Police, and when I arrived at the scene, I was horrified to find that an Israeli minister had been murdered. It was a traumatic and terrible day in my job. I then organized the chase forces together with the Shabak to catch the lowly terrorists.

"Over the years, the State of Israel has pursued the perpetrators and planners of the assassination attempt, and in 2006, as part of the operation to bring them to justice, it finally got its hands on the murderers who were about to be released from prison in Jericho. This is of paramount importance in the fight against terrorism and the dire implications of this serious incident," the Knesset Speaker said.