Sunday, March 15, 2009

Barak Showed Gaza Op Was Valueless

Jerusalem Post, March 8, 2009 - With the days ticking down to the end of the Olmert government, tensions again surfaced in Sunday's cabinet meeting over Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's recent decision to condition Egyptian-mediated truce negotiations with Hamas and the opening of the Gaza Strip crossings on the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

Military Intelligence Chief Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, during a briefing to the cabinet on the situation in the South, said that Hamas's current willingness to compromise more than it had in the past was evidence that Israel's deterrence had been restored.

When he said that Egypt, with Israel's acquiescence, had been talking to Hamas to get them to be more flexible, Olmert interrupted him and said that as far as he was concerned, there had never been any talk of an arrangement with Hamas. Israel would not enter into an arrangement with Hamas, he said.

After Yadlin finished his briefing, Barak said there were indeed elements of a cease-fire arrangement evolving, dealing with stopping arms smuggling and the opening of the border crossings into Gaza.

"All the country's wars ended with some kind of arrangement," he said.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who was opposed throughout Operation Cast Lead to reaching any tacit agreement with Hamas via the Egyptians, believing that Israel's deterrence would ensure quiet in the South, took issue with Barak and said that Operation Defensive Shield had also ended without an agreement.

Barak said the Gaza operation had been a success, but that the country would be in a different position right now had Israel been willing to continue talking about an agreement through the Egyptians.

Olmert then contradicted Barak, saying he knew very well there were no talks about an arrangement, because while Barak wanted such talks, Livni objected.

Olmert said he also objected, wanting first to secure Shalit's release, and then only afterward take steps that could lead to "normal life on the other side."...

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