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Israeli Intellectuals Rally in Tel Aviv in Support of a Palestinian State, Called Traitors by Extremists

Clashes at Israel rally for Palestinian state

Published yesterday (updated) 21/04/2011 20:34 TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) --

Peace activists and left-wing Israeli cultural leaders, including several Israel Prize laureates, were verbally accosted Thursday during a rally in support of an independent Palestinian state, reports said.

The rally was disrupted by right-wing activists equipped with bullhorns, who called out: "leftist professors, it will all blow up in your face," "Kahane was right," and "traitors," the Haaretz daily said.

Rally organizers and participants, who included 21 Israel Prize laureates, told the newspaper that police forces did not separate rally-goers from objectors, as they usually do during right-wing events.

Following the clash, Israel's defense minister released a statement urging restraint.

He said disagreements must be solved "without the word' 'treason' and without violence." "The state is facing fateful decisions and everyone wants a safe and strong Israel ... I call on all to demonstrate responsibly."

The group of 17 said Wednesday that they would sign a petition, calling for the creation of a Palestinian state, in a symbolic ceremony in front of the building where the state of Israel was proclaimed in 1948.

Among the petition's prominent signatories are Menachem Yaari, the former president of Israel Academy of Sciences, Shulamit Aloni, the founder of the leftist Meretz party and Danny Karavan, a painter and sculptor.

All three are winners of the Israel Prize, which is considered Israel's highest honor and is awarded each year in several fields, including for contribution to the nation.

The petition comes as Palestinian officials say they are increasingly determined to seek UN recognition for a state within the borders that existed before the start of the 1967 Six Day War.

"We are here to welcome the expected announcement of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, according to the borders of our Independence, fixed during the 1949 armistice," the petition reads.

The armistice marked the end of the first Israeli-Arab war, which resulted in the birth of the Israeli state on borders that did not change until the Israeli War of Aggression, in 1967, in which Israeli forces occupied territories of three Arab states: Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.

The petition warns ending Israeli occupation is the only way to fulfill the terms of the UN partition resolution, which called for the creation of a democratic Jewish nation and a democratic Arab nation.

"The complete end of the occupation is an essential condition of the liberation of the two peoples," it reads.

AFP contributed to this report.

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