Opposition struggles to unite for rally

The Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip has decided not to participate in Thursday's rally in Tel Aviv's Kikar Rabin demanding the government's resignation, calling it a "political event." Meretz is also leaning toward refraining from formal participation in the event. Uri Zaki, the chairman of Young Meretz, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that Meretz believes the release of the Winograd Committee's interim report needs to be followed by resignations from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz. "Nevertheless, we don't want to be used as a fig leaf for another message, or a sub-message, that calls for elections. Not to mention the fact that Meretz does not want to create a situation where it might appear to be supporting [Likud chairman Binyamin] Netanyahu as an alternative prime minister. "We suspect that this protest's legitimacy will be misused," Zaki said, adding that Meretz would decide whether to take part in the demonstration within a day. The Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip [Yesha] said it decided it would not take part in the protest as an institution "because it's a political demonstration and has nothing to do with Yesha's ideas and struggles," said council spokesman Yishay Hollender. "However, I believe that settlers who identify with the message of this demonstration and want to see the Winograd Committee's conclusions implemented, will come on their own. "[Tafnit party chairman Maj.-Gen. (res.)] Uzi Dayan asked to use the council's organizing facilities to bring many people to the square, but any assistance that we might suggest will be unaffiliated with Yesha as an institution," Hollender said. At demonstration headquarter in Tel Aviv, they are hoping to bring 200,000 people to Kikar Rabin. "We haven't decided yet who is going to speak, a political or a civilian figure, but the event is not political and we don't aim to be that way. We cooperate with organizations from all sides of the political map," said Rafi Lugassi, the headquarter's chairman. Also Tuesday, several protesters walking from Jerusalem toward Kikar Rabin said they were stopped by police outside Abu Ghosh, who told them they'd arrested if they didn't end their march, and that they were acting on "an order from above." A police spokesman said they knew of no such incident. "If the prime minister has not resigned by Sunday we plan to raise a protest tent in front of Olmert's residence until his resignation is published," said marcher Ronen Shoval, the chairwoman of the "If you will it" organization, which advocates a return to Zionist values. "Our message is one of accountability. He who knew to send us to the battlefield has to act as a role model and practice the value of accountability. Olmert and Peretz follow a doctrine that failed, a doctrine that ignores the possibility of war and concentrates only on peace efforts. They represent this doctrine and that is why they have to go home," said Shoval. Lt.-Col. (res.) Eliad Shraga, chairman of the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, said, "The Winograd Committee has delivered the verdict without issuing the sentence. Unfortunately, to that sentence we have to go to Kikar Rabin on Thursday. I am positive that the public's sentence will bring about the resignation of this entire government, from its head to the last of its ministers. This is a joint protest, just as it was a joint war, where bullets couldn't tell the difference between right wing and left wing," Shraga said.