Rabin's assassin says words of Sharon spurred him to action

Yitzhak Rabin's assassin, in his first interviews since the 1995 killing, said he shot the Israeli prime minister because Ariel Sharon and other hawkish ex-generals warned Rabin's land-for-peace deal with the Palestinians would bring disaster.

Yigal Amir shot Rabin at the end of a peace rally in Tel Aviv on Nov. 4, 1995. He considered Rabin a traitor for signing the 1993 Oslo peace accord with the Palestinians, agreeing to return land Israel had captured in wars.

Amir told Israel's Channel 10 TV he was spurred into action by comments from Sharon, Rehavam Zeevi and Rafael Eitan. At the time of the killing, all three were leading right-wing politicians with long military careers.

Asked who affected his decision to kill Rabin, Amir replied: “Sharon, Raful, Gandhi, all of the people who understand the military and said this agreement would bring a disaster.” He called Eitan and Zeevi by their respective nicknames, Raful and Gandhi.

Sharon went on to be prime minister, from 2001 to 2006, and in 2005 ended Israel's 38-year occupation of the Gaza Strip before a stroke left him in a coma. Zeevi was killed by a Palestinian militant in 2001, and Eitan died when he was washed into a stormy Mediterranean in 2004.

Excerpts of Amir's interview were broadcast Thursday and were to be aired in full Friday. However, the station decided not to broadcast the full interview after excerpts set off an uproar for giving exposure to Amir. The interview violated a prisons service ban on Amir talking to the media.

After Rabin's assassination, many in Israel blamed hard line politicians, as well as hawkish rabbis, for creating a divisive political climate. Amir said he paid little attention to the rabbis. He is serving a life sentence.

Israelis mark the 13th anniversary of Rabin's assassination next week.