Friday, August 11, 2006


The Israeli mainstream peace group, Peace Now, has called for an end to the fighting and has condemned the plans of the Ohlmert government to expand the war. Until now, the group supported the decision to fight Hizbullah citing broad support for the war among the Israeli public and the fact that Israel "had no choice."

Peace Now Secretary-General, Yariv Oppenheimer, said yesterday however, "Instead of sending the Israel Defense Forces deep into Lebanon, Olmert has to send (Foreign Minister Tzipi) Livni to the Security Council to seal a political arrangement," Oppenheimer said.

"The cabinet's decision proves that the government has lost direction and entered deep inside Lebanon. I, who at first supported the operation, think the government is not doing enough to bring the war to an end, and is embarking on a dangerous and unnecessary adventure," he added.

Oppenheimer said: "The government is ignoring the political options available. Now is the time for the Israeli government to react positively to [Lebanese] Prime Minister [Fuad] Siniora's plan to send Lebanese troops to the border with Israel."

Meretz (an Israeli dovish social democratic party) also declared that it will be joining the protest outside the Ministry of Defense. Former MK Yael Dayan and writer David Grossman will attend the protest.

Meretz chairman Yossi Beilin called the cabinet's decision "a tragic mistake" and said that Israel was on the verge of "a war of attrition on the ground."

"This decision (to expand the war) will become a death trap for IDF soldiers," said Zehava Gal-On (Meretz). "The cabinet decision will reduce the possibility of a cease-fire agreement."

The following comes from Haaretz (Israel).

Anti-war protest draws mainstream leftist groups
By Mazal Mualem

Hundreds of people demonstrated against the continued fighting in Lebanon yesterday, in a protest that for the first time included mainstream leftist groups among its organizers.

Until now, the only anti-war demonstrations had been organized by the radical left. However, both the Meretz party and the Peace Now organization helped to organize yesterday's protest opposite the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv.

Meretz chairman Yossi Beilin, whose party had hitherto supported the war, said that Wednesday's cabinet decision to expand the ground operation "was the straw that broke the camel's back."

Peace Now chairman Yariv Oppenheimer agreed. "The cabinet's decision led us to the conclusion that a different voice must be heard," he said.

Organizers stressed that most of the people who attended yesterday's event, which urged the government to stop the fighting and embark on a diplomatic initiative instead, had supported the war prior to Wednesday's cabinet decision.

Nevertheless, they encountered angry reactions from passing drivers and pedestrians, including cries of "Traitor!" and "May a missile fall on you!"

Former MK Yael Dayan, one of the organizers, said that she and her colleagues intended to continue their protest activities. She predicted that if the fighting did not end soon, the next demonstration, slated to take place opposite the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, would be much larger.

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