Tel Aviv demonstration calls for Palestinian statehood

Israeli intellectuals drowned out by rightists couter-protesters, chanting "traitors" at event outside Independence Hall; verbal altercations, shoving matches break out; no injuries, arrests are reported.

Protest at Tel Aviv's Indpendence Hall 311  (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Protest at Tel Aviv's Indpendence Hall 311
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Verbal altercations and shoving matches broke out next to Tel Aviv's Independence Hall on Thursday, as a group of Israeli artists and intellectuals prepared to read a declaration supporting the founding of a Palestinian state based on 1967 lines.
As of 2 p.m. a handful of counter-protesters and cameramen swelled into a mob of hundreds shouting "traitors" and "fifth columnists" among other chants as the group of artists began arriving.
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Eventually, Israeli theater legend Hanna Maron took to a microphone in the pedestrian walkway on Rothschild Blvd. and read from the declaration, as a cavalcade of boos and insults largely drowned out her words.
"Israel's Declaration of Independence was made in accordance with the United Nations' decision to divide the land between two states: a democratic Jewish and a democratic Arab state. Each people was expected to fulfill its natural right of self determination in a sovereign state. We consider the independence of the two states and the unqualified end of the occupation a moral and an existential imperative as well as a necessary condition for a good neighborhood," the statement read.
The demonstration had a largely volatile edge to it, but was eventually dispersed shortly after 3 p.m. without any injuries or arrests made.
The demonstration came on the heels of a press conference held in Tel Aviv two weeks ago by a group called "The Israeli Peace Initiative", made up largely of former security leaders. The group called for the Israeli government to launch a peace settlement based on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which, like the declaration on Thursday, called for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines, in addition to a compromise on the Palestinian refugee issue.