Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Austrian President Heinz Fischer on Monday that he is 'undeterred' by the possibility of launching a military operation in Gaza, but added that he was in no rush to order such a move.
"If the lull (in Gaza) will be maintained, it will be reciprocated, but if it is violated we will act accordingly and when we see fit," he said.
Earlier, Housing and Construction Minister Ze'ev Boim (Kadima) called for launching a broad operation in the Hamas-controlled enclave even before the ceasefire with the armed Palestinian groups expires on December 19.
"The truce was worse than a war and was exposed as a dangerous illusion during which Hamas not only continued to launch attacks on Israel but also armed itself and prepared for more terror attacks," he said.
"The only way to protect the residents of Sderot, the Gaza-vicinity communities and the rest of Israel is through such an operation – and we shouldn't wait for the last minute. Israel, not Hamas, should finally take the initiative."
However, National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer of Labor supported his chairman's call for restraint, saying "nothing would contribute more to Barak's election campaign than to order four divisions to enter Gaza, but this would have catastrophic results for Israel. We saw what happened in Lebanon."
Ben-Eliezer further referred to the calls for an operation in Gaza as "cheap political ploys" and "campaign politics".
Barak and the Austrian minister also discussed the Iranian nuclear threat and Hizbullah. "Iran poses a threat to global stability and to the entire Middle East," the defense minister said during the meeting. "The countries of the free world must increase the economic sanctions against Iran in cooperation with Russian and China."