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Sunday, 4 November, 2001, 03:56 GMT
Israeli peace camp remembers Rabin
Yitzhak Rabin's daughter speaking in Rabin Square
Rabin's daughter renewed his call from six years ago
Tens of thousands of Israelis have gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday to mark the sixth anniversary of the assassination of the former Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin.

The ceremony took place in the area, re-named Rabin Square, where Mr Rabin was gunned down by a Jewish student opposed to the peace process with the Palestinians.

The large crowd was pessimistic about a peaceful future
The crowd lit candles, clasped hands and listened to ballads in memory of the former Prime Minister.

The night-time ceremony was a subdued tribute to Rabin, as the peace process he helped engineer is in tatters and Israel's peace movement plunged into disarray.

Galia Golan, a leading Peace Now activist at the meeting, admitted that there was a "tremendous sense of disillusionment" on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides.

"There is no question the peace movement has a lot to do to recover lost ground," she added.

Large turnout

Ms Golan expressed hope that the large turnout in Tel Aviv's central plaza would help galvanise the peace cause.

Tonight all of us here... return to the call that Yitzhak Rabin sounded on this platform six years ago, a preference for the path of peace over the path of war

Dalia Rabin
Most of those gathered in Rabin Square were, however, pessimistic about the prospects for a quick end to 13 months of violence that has seen nearly 700 Palestinians and 190 Israelis killed.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres was one of the few major political figures who made an appearance at the memorial, whose organisers made it clear that hardline Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was not welcome.

Mr Peres had just returned from a forum in Spain where he twice met with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat .

In an appearance on Israeli public television he said that prospects of peace "lie with Israel's youth."

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres was one of few political figures to attend
"Since Rabin's death these have been hard years of blood and suffering," Mr Peres said.

The Israeli Government officially commemorated Rabin's death on Monday, the anniversary of the assassination according to the Jewish lunar calendar.

Mr Sharon spoke of his personal pain over his death as he led a ceremony attended by sobbing family members at Rabin's grave at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl cemetery.

Rabin's assassination followed a virulent campaign by Jewish settlers, who have built communities regarded as illegal in international law throughout the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as religious extremists and far-right politicians.

Under the now defunct Oslo peace accords, Israel ceded parts of the occupied territories to Palestinian self-rule.

The BBC's Linda Duffin
"No-one expected dramatic results from this encounter"
Zalman Shoval, Advisor to Ariel Sharon
"Both sides decided to reschedule"
International affairs expert Judith Kipper
"I think both sides are just as well off with the postponement"
See also:

02 Nov 01 | Middle East
Israeli killed in drive-by shooting
02 Nov 01 | Middle East
Israel declares seized soldiers dead
02 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Downing Street defends Blair trip
01 Nov 01 | Middle East
Blair seeks return to Mid-East peace
01 Nov 01 | Middle East
Sharon offers talks amid violence
31 Oct 01 | Middle East
Israel kills key Hamas member
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