Israeli Intellectuals Back Palestinian Statehood in Tel Aviv Rally

Former MK Yael Dayan criticizes Israeli leadership for calling Palestinian bid at UN 'unilateral,' asking: 'Isn't the occupation unilateral?'

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Hundreds of Israeli intellectuals and academicians voiced their support of Palestinian statehood in a Tel Aviv rally on Thursday, urging PA President Mahmoud Abbas to forge ahead with his UN bid despite U.S. resistance.

About 300 people attended the event outside of Tel Aviv's Independence Hall, which included speeches from former Labor MK Yael Dayan, writer and initiator Sefi Rachlevsky, 1968 student protest leader Daniel Cohn Bendit, Prof. David Harel, Prof. Yosef Agassi, Tal Harris from One Voice and others.

Israeli intellectuals in show of support of Palestinian state in Tel Aviv, Sept. 22, 2011.Credit: Daniel Bar-On

Speaking at the rally, Foreign Ministry director general Alon Liel described U.S. President Obama's UN speech on Wednesday as a "knockout blow to Abu Mazen [Abbas]."

"An American elections speech which stated that the United States supported the rebels in Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, and Bahrain, but not the Palestinians, since they face the State of Israel," Liel said, adding that it was "painful to see a President like Obama giving Abbas – who had walked the diplomatic path for three years – a sort of black eye in the General Assembly."

The former Foreign Ministry official also described a recent visit of several prominent Israeli writers to Abbas' Ramallah office, where they urged the Palestinian leader: "Don't buckle from under the pressure."

"You were struck by Obama, but Obama no longer runs the world. There is a wide international community. Get off the floor, skip the Security Council, go to the General Assembly and get the 150 GA votes," Liel said, adding that Abbas had to "demand that it will happen this time."

"I'd like to see the state that will vote against Palestinian statehood. History will judge them, and that includes Israel," the former official added.

Yael Dayan, speaking at the Tel Aviv event, said it was a disgrace that Israel was calling the Palestinian move a unilateral one, asking: "Isn't the occupation unilateral?"

"Are both sides occupying? To both sides have similar infrastructures? Everything we have, the Palestinians dont have. The Palestinians deserve to have everything we do."

Speaking at the rally, Daniel Cohen Bendit urged social protest leaders to aid the Palestinian cause, saying: "I spoke with the leaders of the social protest leaders and they are wary to bind the two struggles. But there can be no solution to Israel's social problems without ending the occupation."

Prof. Galia Golan blamed the inability to strike a peace deal between Israel and the PA on the Israeli leadership, saying: "We could have reached an agreement since 1988 and it's entirely our fault that we didn't."

"In 1988 the PLO accepted a historical compromise. They gave up 78% of the land in order to get peace and put an end to the occupation. We demand them to give up and give up, and they have nothing left to give," Goland said, adding: "We have been the deniers all these years."

The Israeli academician called Abbas the "most moderate leader anyone could want. He has gone a nonviolent path and is paying the price for it with his people."

"So he made a smart move when he saw nothing was going anywhere and went to the UN. We in our stupidity won't go to the UN with him, but a state as they would like it – a recognition of 1967 borders with a capital in East Jerusalem – gives us a border in the east and a recognition of West Jerusalem that we did not have until now.

In an interview to Palestinian Ma'an news agency, Abbas called on Netanyahu to listen to the hundreds of Jewish intellectuals who said Israel should be the first state to recognize an independent Palestine.

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