Thousands of people took part in a march in central Tel Aviv in support of a Palestinian state. The protest was held under the banner "Israel says yes to a Palestinian state."
The organizers called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to recognize that the establishment of Palestine serves vital Israel interests. It is estimated some 20,000 people attended the rally. Dozens of rightists staged a counter-protest nearby.
Two protestors aged 28 and 37 were arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer and rioting during the protest. They were detained for questioning.
The demonstrators carried signs reading "Yes to peace" and "Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies." Giant posters featuring the image of US President Barack Obama read "Yes, we can." Among the groups which took part in the protest were Peace Now, Meretz, Hadash, the Labor party and even representatives from Kadima.
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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.
Tibi: 'Settlement blocks are cancerous tumor' (Photo: Ofer Amram)
"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 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."
'Containment of peace process will ruin us' (Photo: Ofer Amram)
MK Daniel Ben Simon addressed recent statements made by former Mossad chief Meir Dagan and called on the opposition parties to "follow in Dagan's footsteps."
"I thank Dagan for saying that Netanyahu and Barak were perhaps paving the way to another war," he added.
Meretz chairman and former MK Chaim Oron said, "The total containment of the peace process led by Bibi will ruin us all. "
MK Dov Henin (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."
Various leftist groups took part in protest (Photo: Ofer Amram)
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 neighboring 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."
Israel Police on Saturday prevented members of the United Arab List Ta'al party to hold a march in a Druze village adjacent to the Syrian border. The party members held a demonstration in the checkpoint where they were stopped to mark 'Naksa Day' – the 44th anniversary to the Six Day War which falls on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday cautiously welcomed a French proposal to convene Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Paris to try to renew collapsed peace talks.
Israel is holding consultations with Washington on how to handle the French proposal. Jerusalem is likely to demand several amendments to the French initiative which includes the outline President Obama presented in his Middle East speech.
Moran Azoulay contributed to this report
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