Israel to Egypt: IDF Will Not Act in Gaza If Hamas Stops Firing Rockets

[Ha'aretz] Amos Harel and Barak Ravid - Israeli Defense Minister Barak, who will discuss a Gaza cease-fire with Egyptian President Mubarak in Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday, is skeptical about the chances of achieving long-term quiet with Hamas, and his feelings are shared by Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Minister Livni. Barak is set to tell Mubarak and Egyptian intelligence chief Suleiman that Israel is prepared to stop its military activities in Gaza if Hamas stops firing rockets at Israel. Israel will also try to get Egypt to step up efforts to stop weapons from being smuggled into Gaza. Barak is also expected to say that Israel will lift the blockade and open border crossings only if progress is made on talks aimed at releasing captive soldier Gilad Shalit. It appears from talks which Olmert and senior cabinet ministers held recently with representatives of the Bush administration and key European Union states that Israel will not have international support if it organizes an assault on Gaza now. The Israel Defense Forces will receive an order to begin an operation in Gaza only if the Egyptian cease-fire proposal fails, and rocket fire from Gaza intensifies to the point of incurring serious Israeli losses. The IDF is preparing for the possibility that the security situation in southern Israel will worsen.

2008-05-19 01:00:00

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