Yitzhak Rabin was the 5th Prime Minister of Israel and served the country from 1974–1977 and from 1992 until his assassination in 1995. While in office, Rabin implemented several bold decisions, including the daring operation to rescue the Israeli hostages at Entebbe. Two major events that took place during Rabin's second term were the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians and the peace treaty with Jordan. These achievements fetched him international accolades for which he was honored with International Nobel Peace Prize (1994) and The Ronald Reagan Freedom Award. Earlier, Yitzhak Rabin had served as the 'Palmach' Operations Officer, commander of the 'Harel' Brigade, and Chief of Staff of the Southern Front in the War of Independence. On November 4, 1995, Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish right-wing extremist in Tel Aviv and became the only Prime Minister to be assassinated in the history of Israel. He was succeeded by Shimon Peres.
Yitzhak Rabin was born on 1 March 1922 in Jerusalem. His father, Nehemiah, had immigrated to Israel from the United States of America and during the First World War served as a volunteer in the Jewish Legion. His mother, Rosa, was one of the first members of the Haganah, the mainstream Jewish defense organization. A year after his birth, the Rabins moved to Tel-Aviv where Yitzhak attended Beit Hinuch Leyaldei Ovdim elementary school. At the age of 14, intent on becoming a farmer, Rabin entered the Kadoorie Agricultural School at Kfar Tabor. He graduated from the agricultural school in 1940.
In 1941, influenced by Yigal Allon, Rabin joined the “Palmach Underground”, the commando unit of the Jewish underground army. The unit later became the nucleus for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). In 1945, he was deputy commander of the operation that freed over two hundred illegal immigrants from the “Atlit detention camp”.
During his seven years of service in the Palmach, Rabin developed himself as an efficient military leader. During the War of Independence in 1948-1949, Rabin commanded the Harel Brigade, deployed on the Jerusalem front. As commander, Rabin played a crucial role in the defense of Jerusalem in 1948, particularly in Operation Nachshon, which lifted the blockade to Jerusalem. He was then promoted as the Chief of Operations for the Southern Front and participated in the major battles ending the fighting there, including Operation Yoav and Operation Horev.
In the beginning of 1949, Rabin was a member of the Israeli delegation to the armistice talks with Egypt that were held on the island of Rhodes. In 1954, he was appointed “head of the Training Branch of Israel Defense Forces. In 1964, Rabin was promoted as Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces by Levi Eshkol. Rabin was given more powers by Eshkol as he did not have much experience in the military affairs.
After coming into power, Rabin developed the Israel Defense Forces fighting doctrine - based on movement and surprise - which was employed during the 1967 Six-Day War, when the achievement of air supremacy and massive deployment of armor led to the famous military victory. In January 1968, after 26 years in uniform, Rabin retired from the IDF.
In 1968, Rabin was appointed Ambassador to the United States of America. During his five years in Washington, Rabin strove to consolidate bilateral ties and played a major role in promoting "strategic cooperation" with the United States, which led to massive American military aid to Israel. In this period, the US became the major weapon supplier of Israel and in particular, he managed to get the embargo on the F-4 Phantom fighter jets lifted.
Prime Minister- First Term
Rabin returned to Israel in 1973, just before the general elections and became an active member of the Labor party. He successfully contested the general elections and in March 1974, appointed Israeli Minister of Labor in the government headed by Golda Meir. This government resigned shortly thereafter and Rabin, with the support of Ratz, the Independent Liberals, Progress and Development, became Prime Minister on June 2, 1974. He was the youngest Prime Minister in the history of Israel.
The most dramatic event that happened during Rabin's first term of office was a secret operation carried out by the IDF on July 4, 1976. The IDF performed a long-range undercover raid to rescue passengers of Air France, hijacked by terrorists in Uganda. In this daring operation, thousands of miles from home, the hostages were released and flown to safety in Israel. The operation managed to receive huge accolades within the country but also appeared as a “word of warning” in the diplomatic front.
In 1977 however, Rabin was forced to renounce from the post of Prime Minister and as well as head of the Labor party after it was exposed that his wife, Leah had illegally maintained a foreign currency account containing about $3,000 in the United States. According to Israeli currency regulations at the time, it was illegal for citizens to maintain foreign bank accounts without prior authorization.
Following his resignation and Labor Party defeat at the elections, Likud's Menachem Begin was elected in 1977. Following years, Rabin served as a member of Knesset. Upon formation of the National Unity government in September, Yitzhak Rabin was appointed for the post of Defense Minister. Chosen to serve for the full four-year period, Rabin succeeded in improving his working relations with Prime Minister Peres and in gaining broad public confidence. Rabin guided the country's initial response to the “intifada” - popular resistance to oppression.
Prime Minister- Second Term
In February 1992, the Labor Party held its first primaries and Rabin was selected Chairman of the Labor Party, winning against Shimon Peres. During the 1992 general elections, Rabin, strongly focused on the popularity of the Labor Party and its leaders and managed to win a clear victory over Likud’s Yitzhak Shamir. Rabin, supported by a coalition of left wing parties formed the first labor government after fifteen years. Rabin's second term as Prime Minister was marked by two historic events - the “Oslo Accords” with the Palestinians and the “Treaty of Peace with Jordan”.
Working closely with Shimon Peres, the Foreign Minister and his longtime rival, Rabin masterminded the Oslo Accords. It was the first direct, agreement signed between Israel and the representatives of Palestine on 20 August 1993 in Oslo, Norway. It was for the first time that some Palestinian factions publicly acknowledged Israel's right to exist. The Accords provided for the creation of a Palestinian Authority. It also called for the withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces from parts of the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
The Oslo Accords was signed between Yasser Arafat, leader the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Among the witnesses were, US President Bill Clinton, Warren Christopher from the United States and Andrei Kozyrev from Russia.
Just before the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Rabin married Leah Schlossberg, who was at the time working as a reporter for a Palmach newspaper. They had two children, Dalia and Yuval. After Rabin's assassination, his daughter Dalia Rabin entered into politics and elected to the Knesset in 1999 as part of the Centre Party. In 2001, she served as Israel's Deputy Minister of Defense.
For his contribution for the progress of Israel and especially for the famous “Oslo Accords” Yitzhak Rabin was awarded “The Ronald Reagan Freedom Award”. The award is given only to those who have made monumental and lasting contributions to the cause of freedom worldwide. Rabin was also awarded the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres.
In the evening on November 4, 1995, while leading a mass rally for peace held under the slogan "Yes to Peace, No to Violence," Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish right-wing extremist in Tel Aviv. Rabin was rushed to Ichilov hospital and died shortly. Hundreds of thousands of grieving Israelis thronged the square where Rabin was assassinated mourning upon his death. Rabin's funeral was attended by many world leaders, among them US president Bill Clinton, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and King Hussein of Jordan. To commemorate Yitzhak Rabin, the Israel government renamed the square where he was assassinated, as “Rabin Square”.