Peace demonstration divides the opposition. As the Israel-Hamas conflict shows no signs of abating, several Italian associations and NGOs have announced they will participate in a public manifestation – calling for “peace now” – to be held on Friday across major Italian cities. The organisers seek to keep it apolitical and banned Israeli and Palestinian flags to avoid partisanship.
- Nevertheless, it looks like the leaders of the two biggest opposition forces, the Democratic Party (PD) and the Five Star Movement (M5S), won’t be displaying unity on this occasion…
- … much the same way they chose, after much dithering, to vote for different texts in Parliament to highlight subtle differences in their positions.
Conte’s in… M5S leader Giuseppe Conte announced on Wednesday that he and a group of party MPs will take part in the demonstration. Politically, that jibes with his and the party’s position on Ukraine, where calls for peace and de-escalation (to pursue by stopping military aid to Kyiv) overshadow the legitimacy of its resistance against Russia and the unity of the Western front.
- Mr Conte and his populist, anti-establishment, often Western-sceptic party have a history of taking ambiguous and muddled positions to curry favour among contrarian voters.
…and Schlein’s out. Some MPs from PD’s more leftist section (the closest to the 5SM) also confirmed that they would attend the demonstration. But the more moderate section distanced itself from it (“It is good that one of our delegations is going, but it is not the party line, which only takes into account international obligations,” said Alessandro Alfieri, leader of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee). And the party’s leader, Elly Schlein, reportedly cannot attend because of conflicting schedules.
- This may have something to do with the fact that the line between opposing Israel and anti-Semitism has been blurred in some of the latest pro-Palestinian demonstrations across Italy.
- Having taken a decidedly pro-Israel and Atlanticist stance, it might be that Ms Schlein is evaluating the risk of mixing in with those settings. But she might attend after all, signalling closeness to the M5S’ brand of “pacifism.” The jury is still out.