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Archive for Sunday, November 2, 2003

Israel honors slain leader

November 2, 2003

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— Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered Saturday night to mark the eighth anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, showing their continued support for the stalled peace process.

The peace rally took place in the Tel Aviv plaza where Rabin was fatally shot on Nov. 4, 1995, by an extremist Jew opposed to his peace efforts.

"For me, this is reassurance of the desire for peace, reassurance for people against violence, and reassurance of Rabin's way," said Zvi Friedman, one of the rally's organizers.

A large picture of Rabin hung behind the stage, with the words "Eight years since the murder." Many of the people in the crowd carried banners backing the peace process, saying, "There is no other way."

Labor party leader Shimon Peres, who was with Rabin at the plaza moments before he was gunned down, said he felt his old partner's presence at every memorial rally.

"Every time I mount these stairs, at this building, at this time of evening it is as if I am coming to shake Yitzhak's hand," he told the cheering crowd.

Hours earlier, Palestinian leaders, meeting to form a new government, welcomed a new offer from the Israeli government to resume peace talks. But they said any negotiations must come with efforts to stop violence and halt Jewish settlement building on land claimed by Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon expressed willingness on Thursday to meet with Palestinian leaders. The next day, Israeli media reported that Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz plans to meet with Palestinian officials next week.

A new round of meetings depends in part on whether the Palestinians can form a government in the coming days. Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, who currently leads an emergency government with a one-month mandate, has until Tuesday to form a full Cabinet.

Earlier Saturday, a Palestinian man riding a motorcycle in the West Bank city of Nablus was shot and killed in a refugee camp.

The military said the man, Mohammed Hamad, 23, was lightly wounded in the leg. But an Associated Press reporter saw the man's body in a hospital morgue with two gunshot wounds to the chest.

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