Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) harshly criticized the government decision to declare a temporary ceasefire with Hamas Thursday, saying it in fact agreed to allow the militant group to rearm.
The Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza militias came into effect on 6:00 am Thursday morning.
"I can understand the disappointment Gilad Shalit's family must feel. I wouldn't have agreed to this make-believe ceasefire, but since the government obviously did, one has to wonder why it didn't prerequisite his release. It's inconceivable," said Netanyahu.
"I would like to know, what did we achieve here exactly? Hamas will not stop rearming – (Hamas politburo chief) Khaled Mashaal said they wouldn't and the defense establishment already said the truce will be fragile.
"We didn't get Gilad back. We got nothing. The government is allowing Hamas to go about rearming before the next round of terror attacks," he said.
Why do you think the government agreed to the ceasefire?
"The government agreed because it has a policy of weakness. It promotes passiveness and the lack of action characteristic of many of the governments in Israeli history. This is evident of a lack of leadership.
"Israel has exercised more forces for lesser things. I don't think this is a matter of different political views – this is a matter of impotence... the prime minister and the defense minister are blaming each other for putting politics first. This is an incompetent government faced with a clear security threat and doing absolutely nothing about it," he said.
Israel, he added, has no use for a temporary truce: "We want the children of Sderot to sleep peacefully for many years to come. We have no choice but to act. We have to stop being passive and work towards toppling Hamas' rule (in Gaza).
"Israel cannot afford to have an Iranian enclave, which has no intention of recognizing our right to exist. This zealous enclave will not change its nature. The next conflict is underway."
Why do you oppose the ceasefire? What is the danger here?
"You tell me. What can this artificial truce possibly achieve? Will Hamas dismantle its lathes? It will only use this time to bring more Qassam rockets and Grad rockets into the Strip. There in no doubt about it.
"In the next conflict we will find ourselves facing deadlier weapons and we'll pay a heavier price. We have to have faith in our own military strength and we have to utilize it to bring Hamas down. Anything else is escapism."
And you’re the only one in the government who sees these realities?
"There are more than a few voices criticizing the ceasefire. Those ministers have a way out – they can get up and leave. The government has lost the ability to care for its citizens… it has no solutions to offer and that alone should have made it resign."
Do you feel that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is distracted by his own legal troubles ?
"I've been saying that the government isn't functioning even before the latest events. The government has demonstrated its incompetence by agreeing to this ceasefire," said Netanyahu.