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40,000-50,000 People Rally in Support of Begin’s Policies

Thousands of cheering, chanting Israelis jammed the municipal square here last night in a rally supporting Premier Menachem Begin’s policies. Their speeches and the slogans they carried demanded a just peace based on security. They roundly booed Begin’s critics who staged a similar rally here two weeks ago urging the government to moderate its territorial policies in the interests of peace.

According to estimates, last night’s demonstration drew between 40,000-50,000 Begin supporters as against an estimated 30,000 who turned out for the earlier rally. One of the organizers, Chanan Abramson, an artist, told the crowd that the demonstration was held to counter the “Peace Now” rally initiated by 300 reserve officers who believe Begin’s peace plan is too rigid.

“We wish to correct the erroneous impression, mostly abroad, that a majority or even a large section of Israelis are opposed to the Prime Minister’s peace program,” Abramson said. “We are as interested in peace as anyone else, but we do not believe we must commit suicide to achieve it. We want peace with security, which means that all parties directly concerned must make concessions, not only Israel.”

Another speaker, Mordechai Shorer, who is a member of the opposition Labor Party, called for support of the government’s policies. But he drew catcalls when he criticized the government’s handling of social and economic problems. Many of the speakers spoke in English for the benefit of the foreign news media covering the rally.

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