Israeli Air Strikes on Gaza – the Alternative Viewpoint

When I posted the Gulf News article written by a Palestinian woman earlier this week , I promised to follow up with something from the other side of this conflict. Here is one… but you can read many more in English-language Jewish newspapers such as the Jerusalem Post.

From the Jersulem Post Dec 30, 2008 18:12 | Updated Dec 31, 2008 18:04

Cabinet rejects French proposal to hold 48-hour cease fire

The Security Cabinet on Wednesday rejected a French proposal for a 48-hour suspension of the IDF offensive against Hamas to allow Paris the opportunity to mediate a cease-fire, but Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that the proposal would be reconsidered when the time is right.

Livni looks at Beersheba classroom damaged by rocket - Jerusalem Post.

Livni looks at Beersheba classroom damaged by rocket - Jerusalem Post.

“We didn’t initiate the Gaza operation in order to end it while Israeli towns are still under fire, as they were before the operation.” said Olmert.

“Imagine if after a few days of the offensive we had declared a unilateral cease-fire and a rocket barrage had then hit Ashkelon” he continued. “Israel has shown restraint for years; it gave the truce a chance. We did this in full knowledge of its price only so that southerners could recover and to give them a period without the worry of a Red Color warning every minute. We told ourselves ‘let’s try it,’ but Hamas violated the truce.”

Olmert blasted those calling for an end to the military operation. “Do you understand what repercussions this would have in Israel and the entire region?” he asked rhetorically. “Nevertheless, if the conditions are right and we believe it would provide a solution that ensures a better scurity situation, we will consider it. However, we are not there yet.”

The prime minister stressed that decisions about the military operation were totally detached for political considerations. “We are in a highly charged and tense political period,” he said, pledging that he would not let anyone add “political fire.”

“The foreign minister, defense minister and I are cooperating,” Olmert said. “This doesn’t mean that we don’t have disagreements, but the public must know that decisions are being made level-headedly, carefully and responsibly without external considerations.”

Meanwhile, Hamas on Wednesday announced that it was prepared to look into a cease-fire proposal, on condition that it would include a full cessation of Israeli attacks, and the opening of all crossings into Gaza.

“The moment that we receive the proposal, we’ll look at it,” said senior Hamas official Ayman Taha. “We will support a proposal that will bring about a full cessation of attacks, and a full lifting of the siege.”

Earlier, Olmert’s spokesman Mark Regev said that “Giving Hamas respite just to regroup and rearm is a mistake. The pressure on the Hamas military machine must continue.”

On Tuesday, in discussions with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni that lasted late into the night, Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak had appeared split on whether to accept the French proposal.

The idea for a 48-hour suspension was first raised by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in a phone call with Barak on Monday. Barak initially rejected the offer, but in a second conversation on Tuesday told Kouchner that he would reconsider and raise it in talks with Olmert and Livni.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced Tuesday evening that he would meet Livni on Thursday in Paris. Sarkozy is also expected to come to the region on Monday to look for a way to end the crisis. France, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU until Thursday, called an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers in Paris Tuesday night to discuss the situation. On Wednesday, Kouchner expressed concerns that the Gaza fighting could escalate. “I hope there are no ground actions,” he said of the possibility of an Israeli ground offensive in addition to airstrikes on Hamas targets. “I think it won’t be a solution and will only increase the number of dead.”

Yaakov Katz, Herb Keinon and AP contributed to this report

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