Sources: PM wants ceasefire deal in Gaza, not 'purposeless' war
A senior political source says Netanyahu is inclined to exhaust all diplomatic efforts before considering a wide-scale military operation in Gaza or reoccupation of the strip; adds prime minister is prepared 'to absorb' criticism in order to avoid war which will be applauded 'only for the first two minutes.'
"Netanyahu wants for a military operation in Gaza to have a purpose. We can reoccupy Gaza and remove Hamas from power, but there are no volunteers to take Gaza off our hands. If there was someone willing to take responsibility for the strip, we would have taken over it tomorrow," the source stressed.
The source added that there is a second option to resolve the Gaza issue, which is to hit Hamas with "severe blows without reoccupying the strip in order to achieve long-term quiet."
However, the source emphasized that strikes of this nature would have a counter-reaction and afterwards, Israel would find itself in the same spot the country is currently in.
“Therefore,” added the source, “Netanyahu is trying to achieve quiet through other means,” such as UN and Egypt-mediated talks as well as with the help of Qatar—which has recently started to fund fuel supplies to the strip.
The source underlined that the prime minister is aware of the criticism he would have to face in light of a possible deal with the terror group but according to the source, “Netanyahu is willing to absorb it because he knows that if we invade Gaza, everyone will applaud only for the first two minutes,” implying the government will be scrutinized as soon as the war will start taking its toll on Israeli lives.
While addressing the Islamic Jihad's recent rocket attacks on Israel, which according to the IDF was orchestrated by Iran and Syria, the political source said that “the headquarters are in Syria and the funding comes from Iran … The orders did not come from Gaza but from Syria."
The source went on to clarify the arrangement in question is temporary in nature and designed to prevent the humanitarian crisis in Gaza from “exploding.”
“There could not be a permanent political arrangement with an organization that wants to destroy us, so there is no political solution here. What we are talking about is a humanitarian solution in order to prevent a collapse that will explode in our faces.
"The humanitarian crisis stems from Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to cut the funding to the strip and suffocate them financially,” the source concluded.
Earlier in the day, the prime minister has hinted on his willingness to negotiate a deal with Gaza’s rulers.
"On the one hand, we are working to prevent the breach of Israeli border by their forces, who want to harm our soldiers and our communities, and on the other hand we are working to prevent a humanitarian collapse and therefore are willing to accept UN and Egyptian mediation efforts to achieve quiet," Netanyahu explained during a press briefing.
Earlier, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman criticized his fellow Security Cabinet ministers for backing efforts to reach an arrangement with Hamas instead of delivering a strong blow to the Gaza terror organization.
"Anyone who counts on an arrangement with Hamas is greatly mistaken," Lieberman said at a meeting of his Yisrael Beytenu faction. "My stance on the situation in the south is clear and well known, but unfortunately some members of the Cabinet are deluded, and we already know from the past where such delusions lead."
Arguing Israel doesn't have to wait for the next flare-up on the Gaza border, the defense minister insisted that "there's no way to reach an arrangement with Hamas, and without delivering the hardest blow we can, we won't restore the quiet or calm to the south."