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Last update - 07:28 09/04/2008
Peace Now: Our views are now mainstream but peace still elusive
By The Associated Press
Tags: anniversary, peace now 

Israel's largest peace group marked what it called a bittersweet milestone Tuesday, 30 years since its foundation. Peace Now's call for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel has largely been embraced by the Israeli mainstream, but peace itself remains painfully elusive, representatives of the movement said.

For the anniversary, the group pitched a large white tent in Tel Aviv's central square, site of Israel's largest peace rallies, but also the spot where Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was gunned down in 1995 by an ultranationalist zealot trying to sabotage Rabin's attempt to trade land for peace with the Palestinians.

In a side tent, an exhibition of posters documented Peace Now's history, from its founding in 1978 by several hundred army reserve officers, to the present.
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Reviewing the display, Peace Now veteran Yair Inov, 81, recognized himself in a photograph from the 1980s, showing a few activists protesting at the site of a new West Bank settlement.

"To a certain extent, it's a sad day," Inov said. "I cannot call this (the past 30 years) a success. A peace agreement with the Palestinians, that's the key."

"Our main message is that those who really want to make peace in a year need to change their mode of operations dramatically," said Meretz MK Yossi Beilin. "If the behavior remains what it is today ... you cannot reach an agreement this year," he added.

When Peace Now was founded, negotiations with the PLO and the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel were still considered radical ideas by many Israelis. In subsequent decades, the country remained bitterly divided among those ready to give up much of the land captured in 1967 and those who were not.

However, the Israeli consensus has shifted in recent years, and polls suggest a majority of Israelis would be willing to reach a land-for-peace deal.

However, many Israelis also doubt the Palestinians could implement an agreement, in part because of the growing influence of the Islamic militant movement Hamas, which seeks Israel's destruction.

Peace Now leader Yariv Oppenheimer noted that Israeli settlement expansion has continued without letup in the past three decades, some 450,000 Israelis now live on war-won land claimed by the Palestinians, and that it will become increasingly difficult to set up a Palestinian state.

"We had some achievements, and the settlers had a lot of achievements as well," he said. "But without Peace Now, I think the West Bank would look even worse than it looks today."

A Peace Now-led protest in the fall of 1982 against a massacre of Palestinian civilians by an Israeli-allied militia in Lebanon drew what was described at the time as Israel's largest-ever demonstration.

In later years, Peace Now monitored Jewish settlement expansion, issuing frequent reports.

"Peace Now wants to give the historic Jewish homeland away to the enemy, and that makes them back stabbing traitors," one settler attending the rally said. "The outcome (of returning settled land) is not peace now, it is war now, it is a war of terror and a much bigger war of terror than ever before," another settler representative added.

Former Palestinian Cabinet minister Sufyan Abu Zaydeh, who frequently appears on Israeli radio and TV shows, attended Tuesday's gathering and expressed agreement that attitudes have changed in the past 30 years. "Unfortunately, the problems are still the same problems," he said.

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      1.   "When Peace Now was founded, negotiations w/ PLO radical ideas" 21:21  |  Genuine Tosefta 08/04/08
      2.   Not a single peace movement on the Pal side 21:26  |  Avi 08/04/08
      3.   Morally Bankrupt Peace Never still refuses to admit harsh reality 21:30  |  Genuine Tosefta 08/04/08
      4.   No doubt The Chanalau Penomenon will soon be here with fanatst 21:50  |  Genuine Tosefta 08/04/08
      5.   Peace Now`s sources of financing from EU had dried up after Olmer 22:24  |  Absolute Sweden 08/04/08
      6.   peace now dose nothing to get peace 22:48  |  aaron silverstein 08/04/08
      7.   cretins who think you can negotiate with yourself 22:49  |  v ictor hardman3 08/04/08
      8.   man made islands in the ocean will bring peace now 22:51  |  aaron silverstein 08/04/08
      9.   Peace Now and Leftists (with reality blinders) 23:56  |  Avi 08/04/08
      10.   Israeli consensus has shifted - away from Peace Now 00:34  |  Joe Sittizen 09/04/08
      11.   Peace Now still in `dream land`. 01:01  |  leo 09/04/08
      12.   PEACE NOW (WAR LATER!) ACTIVISTS SERVING ANTI-ISRAEL ARAB AGENDA 02:19  |  G.Marcus 09/04/08
      13.   Oslo III - return of the Intifada 02:27  |  Jon 09/04/08
      14.   Yariv Nasrallah 03:11  |  Frank 09/04/08
      15.   Groups like Peace Now deserve praise,but the israeli mindset is 03:19  |  lakshmi 09/04/08
      16.   The mind that alters alters all 04:55  |  housam 09/04/08
      17.   They have caused Israel great damage 05:31  |  Shalom Freedman 09/04/08
      18.   Peace Now is Now Mainstream? 08:52  |  Proud 09/04/08
      19.   Peace Now, the public has adopted your 09:17  |  Vladimir 09/04/08
      20.   APPEASE NOW is mainstream in NORWAY!!! 09:28  |  Ben Uzi 09/04/08
      21.   RIP Peace Now. I will visit your mourning tent on Kikar Rabin 09:29  |  Moshe 09/04/08
      22.   If so popular WHY all APPEASE NOW money come from Europe!!!! 09:33  |  Jason 09/04/08
      23.   Reality Now.. Peace Now is an empty slogan 09:49  |  YSL 09/04/08
      24.   The endurance and patience of Peace Now 10:06  |  Kris Lazar 09/04/08
      25.   What delusional idiots! 12:02  |  sptz 09/04/08
      26.   #24kris at the crossroads of common sense 12:08  |  victor hardman1 09/04/08
      27.   what delusional idiots 16:41  |  Jonathan 09/04/08
      28.   mainstream views?! 19:58  |  MC 09/04/08
      29.   PEACE NOW - Worshipers of Money 22:20  |  Levi 09/04/08
      30.   defeatism 23:39  |  jorge grosz 09/04/08
      31.   man made islands will bring peace now 23:28  |  jewish settler 15/04/08
      32.   THE ONLY THING PEACE NOW STANDS FOR IS:PALESTINIANS EXPLODING AT 04:27  |  glenna 15/07/08
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