JERUSALEM - Yitzhak Rabin's assassin, in his first interviews since the 1995 killing, said he shot the Israeli prime minister because Ariel Sharon and others had warned that Rabin's land-for-peace deal with the Palestinians would bring disaster.
Yigal Amir fatally 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 accord with the Palestinians, agreeing to return land Israel 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, all three were leading right-wing politicians with long, distinguished military careers.
Asked who had an impact on 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 referred to Eitan and Zeevi by their nicknames, Raful and Gandhi.
Sharon went on to become prime minister from 2001 to 2006, and in 2005 ended Israel's 38-year occupation of the Gaza Strip before he was rendered comatose by a stroke. Zeevi was assassinated by a Palestinian extremist in 2001, and Eitan died when he was washed into a stormy Mediterranean in 2004.
Excerpts of Amir's interview were broadcast for the first time Thursday and were to be aired in full yesterday. But the station decided not to broadcast the full interview after the excerpts set off an uproar for giving exposure to Amir. Channel 2, which also interviewed Amir, scrubbed its broadcast also.
After Rabin's assassination, many in Israel blamed hard-line politicians as well as hawkish rabbis for creating a divisive political climate that encouraged the killer. But Amir said he paid little attention to the rabbis. "You don't need a rabbi for that," he said. "It's not a matter of a rabbi."
Amir, who is serving a life sentence, also said he realized that killing Rabin would be relatively simple when he attended the wedding of a friend. Amir had a pistol, and Rabin was protected by only one bodyguard. "I saw that it was that simple," Amir said. "If I could shake his hand, I could have easily shot him."