Two days in advance of current news reports that Secretary of State Rice is embarking on a mission to broker a cease-fire, and the Israeli government is welcoming the prospect of a multi-national force along the border with Lebanon, the Meretz party has announced its position on the conflict. — R. Seliger
This statement of July 22, from the Meretz party website, is translated by Sol Salbe of the Independent Middle East News Service, sponsored by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. This service “concentrates on providing alternative information, chiefly from Israeli sources.”
Salbe notes: “This is a significant development. A mere ten days after the Hezbollah attack and the commencement of the Israeli operations, a predominantly Jewish-Israeli party has broken ranks in Israel….
“Note also that, unlike Olmert, Bush and Howard [Australia’s prime minister], Meretz is not calling for the disarmament of Hezbollah, but something much more achievable (not too mention sensible.)….”
The Meretz-Yahad Management Committee:
1) Is of the opinion that Israel has right to act, in a manner conforming to the state’s values, against those who impinge upon its sovereignty. Our in-principle support for a response should not be taken as endorsement of every operation, particularly those which are disproportional, such as attacks on civilian concentrations and the regional infrastructure in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.
2) Expresses empathy with the people of the north and Negev and demands that the government ensures that those residents do not suffer financial hardship in addition to the heavy price that they are paying in terms of their security.
3) Calls on the government to take the lead in organizing an immediate mutual cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Such a cease-fire should simultaneously ensure the return of the kidnapped soldier; the cessation of the firing of Qassam rockets and all other hostile activities; the termination of Israel’s military operations for the Gaza strip, targeted assassinations and artillery shelling; and the release of prisoners, (most importantly the elected Palestinian Authority officials that were arrested by Israel at the commencement of the military operation.)
4) Calls on the government to take the lead in organizing an immediate mutual cease-fire between Israel and Lebanon, in accordance with the call of the prime minster of Lebanon, Fuad Siniora. Such a cease-fire should simultaneously ensure: the return of the kidnapped soldiers, the cessation of all other hostilities, the removal of Hezbollah from southern Lebanon and its replacement by the Lebanese army or a multi-national force and the release of prisoners.
5) Is opposed to any broadening of the IDF operation in Lebanon pending the cease-fire.
6) Is resolved to give voice within the Israel public for an Israeli initiative leading to a peace agreement with the legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people, Syria and Lebanon.
And this from yesterday’s Haaretz on the position of Meretz Members of Knesset:
Meretz leaders held a meeting Thursday on the fighting in the north, at the end of which they called on the government to try to reach a cease-fire and start negotiations.
Meretz faction whip MK Zehava Gal-On was adamant in stating that Israel should operate according to Israeli, not American, interests and should not let Israel Defense Forces troops become U.S. President George W. Bush’s cannon fodder.
According to MK Haim Oron (Meretz), there is no debate on Israel’s right to defend her sovereignty, “but this does not grant legitimacy for all military operations. I fear that this war deviates from the limits we set initially. We must warn against sinking anew in the Lebanese mud.”
I think that Mr. Salbe misses the point of Meretz’s statement re Hizbullah. Although correctly diplomatic in tone, Meretz’s demand that Hizbullah be removed from Southern Lebanon is tantamount to a demand to dismantle it as a military force, since its only avowed purpose (militarily, that is) is to ‘defend Lebanon against Israeli aggression’. It would have no military raison d’etre to exist as an armed non-state militia if it were denied contact points with Israel.