Thousands of Israelis march for peace

Tel Aviv, Oct 25 (IANS) Thousands of Israelis took the streets here calling for new peace talks with Palestinians amid an international effort to quell a month-long Israeli-Palestinian wave of violence.

The protesters marched from Rabin Square in central Tel Aviv, Israel’s trade capital, towards Hakirya compound where the ministry of defense is located on Saturday night, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to Peace Now, a left-wing organization that organised the march, about 6,000 people attended the event.

The demonstrators chanted “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies” and “two states for two people, Israel and Palestine.”

“These difficult days, days of violence, fear, and pain, are only reinforcing our understanding that there will be no real security here until there’s peace through a negotiated solution,” the organizers said in a statement.

Peace Now chairman Yariv Oppenheimer blamed the government and ultra-nationalist leaders for the recent unrest.

“They took a whole country hostage of an unnecessary religious war, and we’re all paying the price,” he told the protesters.

He accused the government of turning the country into a “violent, racist and hopeless” place.

The recent spate of violence includes almost daily attacks by Palestinians and violent clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian youth protesters.

Ten Israelis have been killed in attacks, and at least 54 Palestinian were killed in clashes or following attacks.

The violence erupted a month ago, triggered by increased visits by far-right Jewish leaders to the al-Aqsa mosque compound and fears that Israel was plotting to take over the site.

The flashpoint compound is holy to both Muslims, who know it as the Noble Sanctuary, and to Jews, who know it as the Temple Mount.

In a bid to restore calm, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday that Israel had agreed to put CCTVs in the al-Aqsa compound, to prove it does not attempt to change the status quo at the holy site.

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