Reservists' protests unite political foes

October 3, 2006 23:03

2 minute read.

A sagging two-month campaign by reservists against the government's handling of the war in Lebanon took an unexpected turn Tuesday, as protest leaders joined forces with a cross-section of political parties in a united attempt to force the government to establishment a state commission of inquiry over the war. The surprise decision to work with with an array of political parties from Meretz to Israel Beiteinu and with the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip followed weeks of negotiations among the various organizers to set a common goal. The waning low-level demonstrations, which had failed to gain the traction among the public needed to attain their goal, have been encumbered by a split between the reservists, who are calling for the resignation of the country's wartime leaders, and the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, which is demanding the establishment of a state commission of inquiry. The decision to join forces with a variety of political parties with diametrically opposing views to fight for one goal - the establishment of a state commission of inquiry - was seen as an urgently needed practical compromise. "We are pragmatic people who reached the conclusion that this was the best move for our cause at this time," said reservist protest organizer Lior Dinmez. He added that the "extraordinary" coalition of diverse political leaders, reservists and bereaved family members was indicative of the "national consensus" that exists for the formation of a sweeping probe. He noted that the decision to enlist cross-party political support, despite repeat initial declarations of an apolitical protest, was also reflective of the realization that a parliamentary struggle was also needed on the issue. "This is not going to be solved in a day or two. It could go on for month and months, half a year or more," he said. Organizers now hope to enlist the Movement for Quality Government in Israel in their struggle, although such a union is uncertain both due to the apolitical nature of the movement and the fact that the two groups have never worked together. Last month, the cabinet authorized the establishment of an inquiry into the government's handling of the in Lebanon. Headed by retired judge Eliahu Winograd, the panel fell short of demands for the establishment of a state commission that would have the power to dismiss top government and military officials. Protest organizers plan to hold an open-ended demonstration outside Winograd's house and to set up protest booths across the country to spread their message.

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