(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Just five days into the war in Gaza, candidates of Hatnua Hahadasha-Meretz will begin a new campaign on Wednesday calling for a cease-fire and opposing a ground incursion.
Meretz's campaign will be the first step against the war for the Zionist Left. Peace Now will start a similar campaign on Friday. While the non-Zionist Hadash Party protested outside the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on Saturday, Meretz and Peace Now say they are holding off against demonstrating for now.
"We understand that this war is an inevitable struggle against Hamas," Peace Now secretary-general Yariv Oppenheimer said. "There is no anger and fury at the government yet. There is just hope that the war ends before it gets too complicated and there is concern that it won't, but that concern has not yet persuaded our people to go out and demonstrate."
At first, Meretz's campaign will focus on Internet ads. MK Zehava Gal-On said all of her party's Knesset candidates believed that steps had to be taken to end the Gazan rocket fire, but they were divided over the timing of Israel's strike.
"I thought there should have been more diplomatic steps before going to war, which should only be a last resort," Gal-On said.
During the Second Lebanon War, Meretz was divided over whether to demonstrate against the government. At first it boycotted dozens of rallies that were held because it considered them too left-wing.
Gal-On later spoke at a demonstration outside the Defense Ministry, but then-party chairman Yossi Beilin opposed joining the protest.
Current Meretz leader Haim Oron urged Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to seek an immediate cease-fire when he met with him on Monday. He said that restoring the "calm" with Hamas was the only way to end bloodshed, bring home St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit and guarantee quiet in the communities around the Strip.
In a speech to the Knesset on Monday, Oron warned against the IDF "getting stuck in the Gaza Strip" and said he still did not understand what the goals of the war were. Meretz MKs later voted against a motion endorsing the war.
Three authors identified with Meretz - Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua and David Grossman - published separate articles on Tuesday calling for Israel to push for an immediate truce. Grossman, whose son Uri was killed in the Second Lebanon War, wrote that had Israel decided to hold its fire and try mediation after its initial response the reality today might have been different.
Grossman wrote in Haaretz that Israel should tell Hamas: "If you hold your fire, we will not renew ours. If you continue firing while we are practicing restraint, we will respond at the end of this 48 hours, but even then we will keep the door open to negotiations to renew the cease-fire, and even on a general and expanded agreement. That is what Israel should do now."