The real Meretz position on Gaza

The real Meretz position on Gaza

A brief report in Haaretz this week created the erroneous impression that the Meretz party had gone over to a war footing, and was supporting a full-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip.

Here’s a clarification received from the World Union of Meretz, based in Israel:

  • Chaim Oron, Meretz chair, calls for talks with Hamas and says that politicians must stop talking about a wide-scale operation in Gaza, which will only cause Israel ‘to sink into mud much deeper than the one in Lebanon‘. Oron also thinks that, “Concrete negotiations for a ceasefire, as fragile as it is and as long as it is not a long-term solution, are preferable over an exchange of mutual accusations which will only worsen.” As a response to the heavy missile-shooting on Wednesday, December 24 on the northern Negev population in the vicinity of Gaza and Sderot, Meretz backs a limited operation against Hamas and says: “There’s no other choice but to hit Hamas in a focused operation and work for a renewed ceasefire”.

The Meretz party’s website reports similarly (in Hebrew): In response to the Kassem rocket attacks on Israeli settlements near Gaza, party chair Chaim Oron stated that Israel is obliged to protect the security of its residents by any means, military or diplomatic. “That being said,” Oron qualifies, “hallucinatory ideas like occupying Gaza should be thrown into the dustbin of history. A cease-fire is an Israeli interest, and it is preferable to an exchange of blows that will only escalate.”

A publication in Abu Dhabi puts it as follows:

  • The growing calls for aggression drowned out the lone voices calling for dialogue. Chaim Oron, head of Meretz, the most left-wing of Israel’s Jewish parties, said the government should conduct talks with Hamas – an unlikely scenario since Israel refuses to deal with the group directly.
By | 2008-12-26T18:09:00-05:00 December 26th, 2008|Blog|3 Comments


  1. Yehuda Erdman December 27, 2008 at 5:53 am - Reply

    May I remind everyone that there was also unanimity in launching an attack on Hitzbollah at the start of the second Lebanon War. What an unmitigated disaster that was. Unfortunately the leadership in Israel, except interestingly Olmert and Chaim Oron, seem to be sleep-walking into another futile gesture, this time with Hamas as a “target”.
    The whole strategy in dealing with Hamas is wrong, and the only way forward is for Israel to commit to the negotiations with the Arab League, which will ensure that any settlement agreed to, will bind Hamas also, because of the armlock that can be provided by all-powerful members of the League like Saudi Arabia for example.
    At the end of the day, it will be necessary to unravel over 60 years worth of polemic and actions which have locked all sides in this conflict into an almost irrevocable “Zugzwang” position (a term in Chess describing a position where no matter what move is made, the position gets worse). This is not a game we are describing here and in fact it is hard to see any winners at all if wisdom does not prevail.
    In the meanwhile, much more humanitarian aid must be pumped into Gaza to diffuse an explosive situation there.

  2. Anonymous December 27, 2008 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    Hi Yehuda and All,

    I’m sorry, but it looks to me like Meretz has again provided cover for those Israelis who are supposedly to its right:

    “Meretz backs a limited operation against Hamas and says: ‘There’s no other choice but to hit Hamas in a focused operation and work for a renewed ceasefire’.”

    I saw other quotes where Barak used similar language to this.

    Honestly, was there daylight between what Meretz said and what Barak, Livni and Netanyahu have said? Not much as far as I can tell. When push comes to shove at moments like this, it’s quite hard to distinguish between Meretz, the “Peace Party”, and Labor, Kadima and Likud, unless you have a scorecard.


  3. Yehuda Erdman January 2, 2009 at 9:19 pm - Reply

    That was a fair comment, and it is very difficult for any of us who are Zionists and have felt the pain of our fellow Jews who have been under attack for so long in the area around Gaza to be detached. The position that everyone in Meretz either in the USA, UK or Israel have come to is, in my view a carefully balanced one.
    It was essential for Israel to act against Hamas, now aerial attacks have taken place, Meretz advocates a unilateral ceasefire without a ground offensive. The reasons are that such a ground attack will be unpredictable in consequences, difficult to end decisively and may actually strengthen Hamas.

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