Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has invited Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni to Cairo this coming Thursday in the hopes of preventing the further deterioration of the Gaza standoff.
Livni is expected to present Jerusalem's current stance, which holds that enough is enough – and that Israel is duty-bound to protect its citizens from the incessant rocket and mortar fire from Gaza.
"We will not allow the prolonged existence of a Hamastan state in Gaza," Livni said during a Kadima security convention in preperation for her visit to Egypt.
"We need to retrieve the power of deterrence. Every decision made about Gaza needs to come from an empowered stance," she added. "The objective is Hamas. Hamas is responsible for everything that happens in Gaza, politically and economically. Israel has no interest in harming innocent civilians, but it must respond."
Livni stressed that "Kadima's policy for the long run is to destroy Hamas and by then – to retrieve the IDF's power of deterrence and protect the residents."
On Monday three rockets fell in the western Negev despite Hamas' assertion that it is maintaining a 24-hour ceasefire at Cairo's behest.
Thus far Egypt's mediation efforts have not led to any significant progress. Hamas is unwilling to be engaged by Egypt, both in regards to the truce with Israel and the negotiations with rival Palestinian faction Fatah.
The very nature of the direct invitation to Livni is unusual. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert authorized the acceptance of the invitation. The PM is currently in Turkey, working to further the negotiations on the Syrian track.
In her meeting with the Egyptian president Livni will discuss the over 300 Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza into Israel since November, when the lull agreed upon between the two sides was fractured.
Since the last weekend alone some 60 Qassam rockets have been fired, as well as a similar quantity of mortar shells.
Livni will also say that Israel has sought to renew the lull based on the conditions agreed upon in June 2008 through Egyptian mediation, but to no avail. Earlier on Monday Egyptian sources claimed that the pressure on Israel and the Palestinian factions to restore calm in the region has been ratcheted up.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit telephoned counterpart Livni in the morning to express his
concern over the post-ceasefire situation.
Livni told him the situation in southern Israel was escalating and made it clear that Israel has to defend its citizens and cannot remain indifferent in light of the situation. She added that Jerusalem still views Cairo as a mediator which may help calm the situation.
Ynet reported Sunday that Livni and Israel's ambassadors around the world are preparing to launch a global effort in a bid to secure backing for the anticipated operation in the Gaza Strip.