The majority of the cabinet ministers voiced their objection to the move, saying any ceasefire on Israel's part would only allow Hamas to regroup, rearm and recruit more operatives before it continues its attacks on Israel.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert chose to refrain from making any definitive decision during the meeting, saying he would rather wait for the defense establishment to study the offer first.
Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, who took part in the meeting, said the move might be perceived as legitimizing Hamas: "We have to reach a ceasefire from a state of deterrence, while making sure we can increase the chances to free Gilad Shalit."
Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin and Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai appeared before the cabinet and briefed the ministers on the situation in Gaza.
Diskin warned of Hamas continuing to gain strength in Gaza and briefed the ministers on the various intelligence indicating terror groups will try to carry out a major attack during Israel's Independence Day celebrations.
Dichter slammed Egypt for "not doing its job when in comes to stopping the weapons smugglings from Sinai to Gaza." The IDF did not fare better, as Dichter asked, "if the cabinet directed the military to do what needs to be done in order to stop the rocket fire on Israel two months ago, why hasn't the military briefed the cabinet on its actions?"
Vilnai, on his part, rejected Hamas' claims of a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, saying that the supply of both fuel and cooking gas has been renewed; and adding that provisions and medical supplies are routinely allowed into Gaza.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak did not attend the cabinet meeting – he was visiting IDF forces training in the Golan Heights.