IAF strike in Gaza
Photo: AP

Cabinet to decide future of Gaza operation midweek

National Security Cabinet to discuss prolonging Gaza operation Wednesday; Defense Minister Barak, Foreign Minister Livni demand operation be widened. Foreign Ministry prepares to fight off international onslaught in view of death toll in Gaza

The cabinet is not expected to decide on the future of the IDF operation in Gaza in its Sunday meeting -  Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is likely to wait for the National Security Cabinet meeting on Wednesday in order to have the operation declared a wide-range incursion.


The Israeli government has simultaneously launched an international informative campaign, aimed at explaining Israel's stand on the Gaza situation.


Foreign Minister Tzipi Livini spoke on the matter with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Slovenian Foreign Minister and current EU President Dimitrij Rupel.


Israel, she stressed, has the right to defend its citizens and the Palestinians must not suspend the peace talks because of the Gaza operation - especially since Israel "did not suspend the talks, despite the ongoing rocket fire."


Director-General of the Foreign Ministry Aharon Abramovich called a special ministry session Saturday night, in which the Israeli ambassadors around the world were briefed on the necessary measures with which to deal with the expected international onslaught, in view of the death toll in Gaza.


Foreign Ministry personnel were instructed to stress the impossible reality in which 200,000 of Israel's residents have been living in.


Meanwhile, the security establishment is readying a large-scale incursion aimed at terror infrastructure and the Hamas-led government in Gaza Strip.


Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni both believe the operation is warranted, and both agree this is not the time to engage in a Gaza war.


Prime Minister Ehud Olmert approved the current operation in the Strip's north, but his is in no hurry to call for a wide incursion. Olmert is expected to meet with defense establishment official on Sunday to study the weekend's occurrences in Gaza more thoroughly.


The National Security Cabinet is expected to meet Wednesday, with Rice's visit to Jerusalem hovering in the background. The cabinet meeting is not expected to result in a declaration of war.


A source in Jerusalem told Ynet that "things may change", especially now that Ashkelon and its vicinity are under rocket fire.


The overall feeling, added the source, is that as time goes by, Israel deterrence in decreasing and since political pressure on Hamas to cease fire has proved ineffective, Israel may have no choice but to decide the matter by military force. The only remaining question is when.


Faced with the escalation in rocket fire, said the sources, the PM has some hard decisions to make.


פרסום ראשון: 03.02.08, 01:06
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