Tel Aviv march says "Yes to a Palestinian state"
TWO weeks after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu rebuffed President Barack Obama's call for peace, and received 29 standing ovations from the US Congress in Washington, thousands of people have marched through Tel Aviv to deliver a very different message.
Saturday night's demonstration was held under the banner "Israel says yes to a Palestinian state.
"Organisers called on Netanyahu to recognise that establishment of a state by Palestinians would serve vital Israeli interests, the Israeli news service YNet reports. It estimates that some 20,000 people attended the rally, while "dozens of rightists staged a counter-protest nearby".
Palestinian leaders are planning to declare a state in September and seek international recognition.
YNet refers to the demonstrators as "Leftist", but notes that besides groups like Gush Shalom and Hadash (alliance led by the Communist Party) there were contingents from Peace Now, Meretz, the Labour Party, "and even representatives from Kadima" (the party founded by Ariel Sharon, it has Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni bidding for leadership) .
Demonstrators carried signs reading "Yes to peace" and "Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies." Echoing Obama's call for a return to the 1967 borders, the Workers Party had a banner saying "Yes to '67, Direct Line to Peace!" Some people had giant posters featuring the image of Obama and his famous slogan "Yes, we can."
Yenina Altman, 80, came to attend the march all the way from Haifa. "It’s important to me to voice the desire to see the Palestinians independent," she told Ynet. "I came from Poland after my entire family perished, I was in a ghetto and a concentration camp. I would like to have my country show tolerance and respect for the Palestinians and give them the right for an independent state just as we desired."
Makhoul Rwada from Kafr Yasif, a Palestinian village in western Galilee, said, "We hope that such acts of protest will grow stronger and cause a change which will see an independent Palestinian state along 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as capital."
Knesset member Daniel Ben Simon thanked former Mossad chief Meir Dagan for his warning that Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak (former Labour Party leader) were " perhaps paving the way to another war. "
Knesset Member Dov Henin from Hadash stated "this is the most fatal battle in the peace camp's history – there is an alternative to a terrible war. A peace of two-states and two capitals in Jerusalem is not only vital. It’s also possible."
MK Ahmad Tibi stated that the "longest occupation in modern history must end and whoever refuses to negotiate 1967 will have to negotiate 1948 and one state instead of two neighbouring states." Referring to the settlement block he said: "Blocks are metastases and both are cancerous tumors that must be removed for a possible peace and a two-state solution."
with thanks to Assaf Adiv for additional information.