Background

  • Yigal Amir is an Israeli Religious extremist who assassinated Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin
    • Took place on November 4th, 1995 at the conclusion of a rally in Tel Aviv where he passionately condemned violence
      • Rabin and his foreign minister, Shimon Peres, planned to continue extremely controversial series of negotiations with Palestinian leaders
      • Just a month before the assassination, the Rabin government had signed the Oslo II accord
  • The Oslo Accords are a set of agreements between the government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
  • The Oslo Accords marked the start of the Oslo process
    • The Oslo process is a peace process that is aimed at achieving a peace-treaty based on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 and 338, and to fulfil the “right of the Palestinian people to self-determination”
  • Many Jews hoped that the accords Rabin championed would bring peace to the troubled region
    • To some of Israel’s orthodox right wing, however, Rabin’s meetings with the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the planned withdrawal from occupied lands were tantamount to treason
    • Few issues had so severely polarized the nation in Israel’s short history as a secular state

Key Legal Issues

  • Yigal Amir claimed that he was acting in accordance with Jewish law
    • The attempt to grant religious authority to the murder… is completely inappropriate and amounts to cynical exploitation of Jewish law for goals that are alien to Judaism”
  • Amir had other accomplices in the assassination plan:
    • Hagai Amir, his brother, and Dran Adani were indicted for conspiracy
  • Conspiracy:
    • 3 unsuccessful attempts at:
      • Yad Vashem
      • Naf Jerusalem Hotel
      • A ceremony inaugurating a highway in Kfar Shmaryahu
    • 10 other suspects were detained:
      • Israeli army sergeant Arik Schwartz smuggled weapons to Amir’s brother
    • Police charged that the weapons hidden at a nursery were to be used in plots against Rabin, Peres, and Palestinian Arabs
    • Israel’s secret security service, Shin Bet, was reeling from accusations of incompetence and suspicion of conspiracy
      • The press reported that a paid informant had warned the agency of Amir’s intentions
  • Avishai Raviv = Informant
    • Stated that Amir had talked to him about killing the prime minister
    • Did not take Amir seriously
  • Amir continued to defend the shooting as a moral attempt to save Jewish settlers who might be displaced by Israel’s withdrawal from occupied territories
    • After his arrest and throughout his trial, Amir continually invoked an obscure Jewish doctrine
      • Din rodef
  • “The judgement of the pursuer”
  • By this rule, taking a life may be excused if it is done to prevent someone from imminently committing a murder
    • Amir held that Rabin’s policies had placed thousands of Jews in mortal danger
    • “According to Jewish law, the minute a Jew gives over his people and his land to the enemy, he must be killed”
  • Amir was being charged with murder by a secular court, not by a religious court
    • Invoking such a law to settle even grave political differences was prohibited

Case

  • Yigal was defended by two court-appointed attorneys
    • Gabi Schafer and Shmuel Flishman, in addition to Yonatan Ray Goldberg and Mordechai Ofri
  • The judges ordered a mental examination by three district psychiatrists and a clinical psychiatrist
    • All agreed that Amir understood the meaning of his actions and was fit to stand trial
    • Amir was found guilty, being sentenced to life imprisonment plus six additional years in prison for injuring Rabin’s bodyguard
    • Amir’s claim that he was acting in accordance to Jewish law was rejected by the judges
      • Wasn’t tried in a religious court, but by a secular court
    • Amir was sentenced to an additional five years, and after an appeal on behalf of the state, eight years, for conspiring to commit the assassination with his brother, Hagai Amir and Dran Adani
  • On December 19, 2001, the Knesset, by a majority of 62 members, approved the Yigal Amir Law
    • This law prohibits a parole board from recommending pardon or shortening time in prison for a murderer of a prime minister
      • They hoped it will prevent another political murder