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May 12, 2002
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Large Tel Aviv rally calls for pullout from territories

The Jerusalem Post reports that last night tens of thousands rallied in Tel-Aviv to call for a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza. Police estimated the crowd at 60,000 while organizers put the figure at 150,000.

Currently there's a coalition government in place, with both Likud and Labor joining forces. The demonstration was organized by the opposition, Meretz, and the "Peace Now" group (see the democracy page for details).

I reproduce the article below.

Large Tel Aviv rally calls for pullout from territories

Tens of thousands rallied in Tel Aviv’s Kikar Rabin last night to call for a withdrawal from the territories. Police estimated the crowd at about 60,000, while organizers Peace Now put the figure at above 150,000, calling it the biggest peace rally since the current wave of violence broke out in October 2000.

Opposition politicians and artists addressed a throng waving a sea of banners saying “Leave the territories for the sake of Israel” and “Two states for two peoples.” Some carried signs saying: “Get out of the territories – and save the economy,” and “Conscientious objectors for the country.”

Some 1,500 security guards and police officers secured the event. Opposition leader MK Yossi Sarid (Meretz), former justice minister Yossi Beilin, entertainer Dudu Topaz, and author Amos Oz addressed the crowd.

“The economic crisis is threatening the entire country. Only the settlements and the government are big and fat... Withdraw from the settlements and return to ourselves. The settlements are a burden; there is no concession and no prize,” Sarid said in his speech.

One of the highlights of the evening was when singer Yaffa Yarkoni, who had been sharply criticized for her remarks against the IDF incursions into the territories and against the occupation of the territories, and whose appearances had been cancelled in some places, took the stage. She was warmly received by the crowd.

Peace Now leader Tzali Reshef told the crowd that Foreign Minister Shimon Peres bears as much responsibility for the current situation as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and called on the Labor Party to leave the government for the sake of the state.

Oz told the crowd that “the time has come to return home,” and called on the settlers to move to Arad, where he lives, or other towns in the South, like Yeroham or Dimona.

Topaz spoke in favor of Operation Defensive Shield, to the crowd’s displeasure. Topaz, who has been reportedly considering becoming a Labor Party politician, said he was still speaking as “a civilian for now.”

Yossi Beilin called on the crowd “not to let [Yitzhak] Rabin be murdered a second time.”
Robi Damelin, the mother of Lt. (res.) David Damelin, 28, who was killed during a Palestinian attack at a roadblock north of Ofra, also addressed the crowd.

At the end of the demonstration, former Meretz MK Shulamit Aloni, MKs Yael Arad and Taleb a-Sana’a, and other representatives of the Left joined the crowd in singing “Hatikva.”

Posted by David Melle at May 12, 2002 08:10 AM
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(According to digits.com)