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Peace Now

Peace Now is an extra-parliamentary non-partisan movement, established in the spring of 1978 by 350 reserve officers that wrote a letter to Prime Minister Menahem Begin. In their letter they asked him to continue in his pursuit of peace. The movement was mainly active through demonstrations, rallies and letter writing. From the beginning of its activities, it claimed that the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip is in contradiction to peace. The movement proposed five principles as a basis for negotiations: Territorial compromise, by which each side will consent to compromise on its historical rights; recognition of Israelís right for sovereignty, within borders accepted by both sides; Israeli recognition of the Palestiniansí right for national existence; the need for territorial adjustments to satisfy the defense of Israel; and the solidarity of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, taking into consideration the national and religious interests of the city.

Peace Now came out in fierce protest against Operation Peace of the Galilee. It was the central force behind the mass demonstration held in Tel Aviv on September 25th 1982, calling for the establishment of a national inquiry commission on the massacre in Sabra and Shatila, as well as the resignation of Defense Minister Ariel Sharon. The Commission was subsequently established and its recommendations included a call for Sharon to resign from his post. On the day of the publication of the Commissions report, on February 10th 1983, Peace Now held a demonstration in favor of the reportís implementation. A hand grenade was thrown into the crowds at the demonstration by right-wing activist Yona Avrushmi. As a result of this, Peace Now activist Emil Grunzweig was killed and many others, including former Member of the Knesset Avraham Burg, were injured. This murder served as a shocking testimonial to the increasing political violence in the Israeli society.

Peace Now refrained from making contact with representatives of the PLO until the late 1980ís. At that time members of the movement began to be in close contact with prominent Palestinian figures of the occupied territories and collaborated in activities for mutual involvement towards a peace process. Its activities increased during the First Intifada (beginning 1987), calling to end the occupation that was began in 1967.

The movement supported the peace process promoted by Yitzhak Rabinís government, formed in July 1992, but objected to some of its other endeavors: The banishment of 415 Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists to Lebanon in December 1992; avoiding the issue of evacuating settlements, such as Hebron and Netzarim, after the shooting committed by Dr. Baruch Goldstein at the Cave of the Patriarchs in 1993; and the continuing expansion of settlements. The movement accelerated its activities after the formation of Benjamin Netanyhauís government in July 1996. It publicized data concerning the settlements and began operating surveillance teams for this matter. In the 2000ís the movement supported several initiatives, such as the Geneva Accord and the Disengagement Plan incorporated by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2004. In 2005, Peace Now motioned to the Supreme Court demanding the evacuation of the settlement in Amona. Their motion was accepted and the settlement was evacuated by security forces several months later.

Despite the movementís non-affiliation with any political party, the movement considered having some of its representatives run in the elections to the Eleventh Knesset (1984). Ultimately they did not run. At the time, one of Peace Nowís founding members, Tzaly Reshef, joined the Labor Party.

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