Thousands Of Israelis Rally For
Pullout From West Bank, Gaza


TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of left-wing Israelis rallied on Saturday night to call for an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories in what organizers said was the biggest peace demonstration for 20 years. The protest was organized by the Peace Now movement, which has been marginalized of late by public outrage over Palestinian suicide bombings which have killed scores of Israelis in an uprising against occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Police estimated the crowd at about 50,000. Peace Now put the figure at above 100,000, calling it the biggest peace rally since some 200,000 people turned out in 1982 to call for an Israeli military pullout from Lebanon.
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."
Crowds spilled out of Rabin Square, named after late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shot dead by a Jewish extremist after addressing a peace rally there in 1995, two years after forging an interim peace deal with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Talks on a final settlement broke down in 2000 over issues including Jewish settlements in territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and Palestinians' insistence on the right of return to Israel of refugees displaced since 1948.
Palestinians rose up in September 2000 against occupation in much of the West Bank and Gaza outside towns which were given self-rule under the interim peace accords.
About 200 people held a demonstration in New York in sympathy with the Tel Aviv rally. "We're against Sharon now, his policies will not prevail," Rabbi Israeli Dresner told the crowd. "We believe that peace is possible and that it's probable."


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