Rally crowd urges Israel to pull out from territories

Some 1,500 security guards and police officers secured the event. Knesset member Yossi Sarid (Meretz party), former Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, entertainer Dudu Topaz and author Amos Oz addressed the crowd.

"The economic crisis is threatening the entire country. Only the settlements and the government are big and fat… Withdraw from the settlements and return to ourselves. The settlements are a burden; there is no concession and no prize," Sarid said in his speech.

One of the highlights of the evening was when singer Yaffa Yarkoni, who had been sharply criticized for her remarks against the Israel Defense Force's incursions into the territories and against the occupation of the territories, and whose appearances had been cancelled in some places, took the stage. She was warmly received by the crowd.

Peace Now leader Tzali Reshef told the crowd that Foreign Minister Shimon Peres bears as much responsibility for the current situation as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and called on the Labor Party to leave the government for the sake of the state. Oz told the crowd that "the time has come to return home," and called on the settlers to move to Arad, where he lives, or other towns in the South, like Yeroham or Dimona.

Topaz spoke in favor of Operation Defensive Shield, to the crowd's displeasure. Topaz, who has been reportedly considering becoming a Labor Party politician, said he was still speaking as "a civilian for now."

Yossi Beilin called on the crowd "not to let [Yitzhak] Rabin be murdered a second time." Robi Damelin, the mother of Lt. (res.) David Damelin, 28, who was killed during a Palestinian attack at a roadblock north of Ofra, also addressed the crowd.

At the end of the demonstration, former Meretz Knesset member Shulamit Aloni, Knesset members Yael Arad and Taleb a-Sanaía, and other left-wing representatives joined the crowd in singing "Hatikva."