Roni Sofer
June 10, 2008 - 5:00pm,2506,L-3...


"Israel must launch a large-scale operation in Gaza against Hamas and the rest of the terror organizations," Housing Minister Ze'ev Boim said prior to Tuesday's cabinet meeting, "everyone understands that any ceasefire would only be temporary. Hamas is under pressure. The blockade did its job."

According to Boim , any truce agreement would only serve Hamas' interests and give it time to regroup.

At the onset of the meeting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert updated the ministers on his recent trip to Washington and the State Budget, but did not raise the Gaza issue.

Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit said he too was against a ceasefire agreement with the Islamist group. "It (truce) won’t last. Hamas will violate it and say that it has no control over the other groups on the ground," he said, but added that the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit would change matters.

According to Deputy Prime Minister and Shas chairman Eli Yishai, Israel "cannot agree to a virtual ceasefire agreement without Shalit.

"We must see what alternatives the IDF proposes. We must act in Gaza; the question is when and to what extent," he said.

On the other hand, Minister of Science, Culture, and Sport Raleb Majadele (Labor) said an Israeli operation in the Strip would be futile. "What will we gain by attacking Gaza? We've been attacking there for the past five years and nothing is happening – 1,200 Palestinian deaths compared with 15 Israeli deaths. We must exhaust the negotiation process, because there is no other way. It is better to talk than shoot."

Following the weekly cabinet meeting Olmert is expected to meet with fellow "Kitchen Cabinet" members Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minster Tzipi Livni to discuss the situation in Gaza. The three contend that a confrontation with Hamas is inevitable, but have yet to agree on the timing of an Israeli operation.

  Olmert, Barak and Livni believe that Monday's transfer of a letter from Shalit is indicative of Hamas' willingness to reach an agreement with Israel and are therefore contemplating giving Egypt's mediation efforts another chance.



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