Israel is very close to securing the objectives of its 22-day-old offensive in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Saturday, according to French News Agency AFP.
"After three weeks of Operation Cast Lead, we are very close to reaching the goals and securing them through diplomatic agreements," Barak said during a visit to the south of the country, according to a statement from his office.
The cabinet will hold a vote on Saturday evening to decide whether to enact a unilateral cease-fire with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The decision would mean Israel has put an end to the three-week-long Operation Cast Lead without an agreement with Hamas, relying instead on the support of the United States and Egypt in battling arms smuggling into Gaza.
A government source said Thursday that defense official Amos Gilad had returned from Egypt with a very reassuring report about its willingness to crack down on arms smuggling to Gaza - one of Israel's key demands - and about Hamas' willingness to accept the Egyptian proposal.
The Egyptian proposal, of which Haaretz obtained a copy Thursday, contains three clauses. First, Israel and the Palestinians will agree to an immediate, time-limited cease-fire, during which the border crossings will be opened for humanitarian aid and Egypt will lead negotiations on a long-term truce. Second, the long-term truce must include provisions on both border security and an end to the blockade of Gaza. Third, Fatah and Hamas should resume reconciliation talks.
IT'S GREAT THAT THE IDF KICKED HAMAS'S ASS, BUT THIS DEAL WOULD BE HIGHLY UNSATISFACTORY.
- THERE SHOULD BE NO AID TO GAZA - AS IN ZERO, ZILCH, NADA - UNLESS AND UNTIL HAMAS IS OUT OF OFFICE OR IT AGREES TO PUBLICLY AND PERMANENTLY RECOGNIZE ISRAEL.
- ANYTHING LESS THAN THIS IS BULLSHIT APPEASEMENT AND WILL YIELD NOTHING MORE THAN NA FEW YEARS OF RELATIVE CALM.
- A CALM THE ISLAMOTHUGS WILL USE TO REBUILD THEIR OFFENSIVE CAPABILITY.
- AS PM, BIBI WOULD NEVER AGREE TO THIS. WHICH IS WHY I PRAY ISRAEL ELECTS HIM THEIR NEXT PM.