Photo: Gil Yohanan
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Lieberman: Only a decisive victory will prevent another operation
Foreign minister says Israel must defeat Hamas, even at the cost of escalation, because it wouldn't be able to reach any 'reasonable agreement' until then; threatens to send Palestinians bodies of Hamas leadership if they don't return bodies of IDF soldiers Goldin, Shaul.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called for a decisive victory in Operation Protective Edge on Wednesday, even at the cost of the escalation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip.



"The State of Israel cannot afford a war of attrition, just like any other modern country can't. That's why we have to reach a decisive victory, even at the cost of escalation," he told mayors in southern Israel. "We don't need to make any more threats, just deliver a hard blow."


Lieberman said a decisive victory should be Israel's main goal, as only that would prevent another round of fighting.


"After three operations, I think it's time to say 'enough,'" he said. "One month is enough to realize that we can't reach any agreement with this group of terrorists we're facing."


"If we don't get rid of Hamas, we wouldn't be able to make progress on any reasonable agreement - not security-wise, nor diplomacy-wise," the foreign minister went on to say.


He criticized the willingness of some cabinet ministers to accept the long-term ceasefire deal taking shape in Cairo, saying "it can't be that the State of Israel is unwilling or unable to defeat 26,000 terrorists who are sitting here next to us and repeatedly threatening and interrupting the peace."


Lieberman also threatened the heads of Hamas' political and military leaderships.


"If the terrorists on the other side ... are unwilling to bring back the bodies of the soldiers (Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul and Sec.-Lt. Hadar Goldin), they have to understand they'll get back the bodies of Mohammed Deif, (Ismail) Haniyeh and the rest of the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip," he said, stressing he'll vote against any agreement that doesn't include the retrieval of the soldiers' bodies.


Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri responded to Lieberman's threats, calling them "ridiculous."


The indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas in Cairo under the auspices of the Egyptians were expected to end on midnight Wednesday, when the current ceasefire ends.


Meanwhile, coalition ministers and MKs continue ramping up the pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to accept the deal being formulated in Egypt.


In "prep talks" Netanyahu held on Tuesday evening, his ministers set conditions to their support of an agreement that would make it harder on him to reach a deal with the Palestinians that would end the current conflict.


The impression given to the ministers is that Netanyahu was concerned the cabinet votes against the agreement.


One of the participants in the "prep talks" said: "He's preparing for the day after, because if we tell him 'no' - he'll be in a bind internationally."


Netanyahu's concerns open the door for demands from his coalition partners in return for their support of the deal. Cabinet ministers were formulating a list of demands that Netanyahu would have to meet to be granted their vote.


One of the ministers demanded an international commission to be formed as part of the agreement to work out a plan to demilitarize and rehabilitate the Gaza Strip.


Justice Minister Tzipi Livni pressed on the issue of the Gaza port, clarifying she will not agree to one, while Lieberman raised the issue of the soldiers' bodies in Hamas' hands.


"We don't really know if the prime minister is trying to trap us with an Egyptian agreement we can't turn down, but he'll be in a bind (if he does)," several of the ministers told Ynet.


Some of the ministers have complained they were not presented with the details of the agreement.


"We asked to learn the details of the deal, Netanyahu is afraid it won't pass so he's not revealing the details," one of the ministers said.


Another minister criticizing the ceasefire deal was Tourism Minister Uzi Landau, who told Ynet: "The IDF needs to launch a dramatic operation, different to what we've done before. We have to create a reality according to which if (Hamas) doesn't reach an agreement - it suffers a harsh blow. We have to strike and hit the heads of Hamas. At the moment we're transferring paychecks to active murderers."  


"We've been in this situation more than once. Some of the residents of the south are not going back home, and Hamas is still setting demands. What's the message? When there's terror - it can reach diplomatic and economic achievements. This won't bring peace," he added.



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