The Palestinian silence regarding Thursday’s terrorist attack in the South was
“deafening,” and raises serious questions about the Palestinian Authority’s
readiness for independence, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark
Regev said Sunday.
“The Palestinian leadership’s failure to condemn
Thursday’s attack against civilians raises serious questions about their
readiness for independence, and their commitment to fight terrorism,” Regev
said. “Their silence was deafening.”
Abbas calls on UNSC to 'halt Israeli aggression'
Opinion: Palestinians can still negotiate after the UN declaration
Government sources noted that even
Yasser Arafat would issue pro-forma condemnations of violence during the height
of the second intifada, something the PA leadership has not yet done since
Regev, who said Netanyahu was holding security
consultations throughout the day, said the goal of the military actions in Gaza
was twofold: “One, to prevent the launching of missiles and rockets on Israeli
cities; and two, to target those responsible for attacks on
According to Regev, Netanyahu instructed the military to make
pinpoint, surgical attacks, adding that “every possible effort must be made to
avoid harming Gaza’s civilians who are not our enemies.”
Regev said 15 of
the 16 fatalities in Gaza since Thursday’s attack in the South have been
“legitimate” targets. “Our response is measured and surgical,” he
Regev did not confirm reports in the Arab media that a cease- fire
was reached Sunday night.
In a related issue, one government official
said the hope in Jerusalem was that “we are over the hump in the road with
Egypt,” and that common interests will prevail.
The official would not
confirm reports that the US – which is relaying messages between Jerusalem and
Cairo – had threatened Egypt that its annual financial-aid package from
Washington would be in jeopardy if Cairo failed to take action to end the
Foreign Ministry and Prime Ministry Office officials would also
not confirm reports that an Israeli delegation was in Cairo for discreet talks
with the Egyptians on ways to defuse the crisis.
Ministry officials said that Shalom Cohen – Israel’s former envoy to Egypt, who
was filling in for the current envoy, Yitzhak Levanon (who is out of the
country) – was in continuous contact with the Egyptian Foreign Ministry
throughout the day.
Even though there was a direct channel of
communication with Egypt, the official said, it helped to have the US involved
Egypt’s ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Othman,
meanwhile told the Voice of Palestine radio station Sunday that Israel was using
the escalation in the Gaza Strip to complicate the PA’s bid for statehood in the
United Nations next month.
According to an Israel Radio report, the
Egyptian ambassador added that Israeli operations in Gaza were complicating
Cairo’s efforts to stabilize Sinai Peninsula.
Othman was reportedly
involved in efforts over the weekend to mediate a truce between Israel and
Hamas. He said Sunday that Cairo’s efforts to bring calm to Gaza are ongoing,
but there were no guarantees of success.
One of Egypt’s central demands
in negotiating a truce in Gaza, the ambassador told a Palestinian newspaper, was
for Israel to halt all attacks on the Strip.
Meanwhile, Israeli officials
were furious that the UN Security Council could not agree on a condemnation of
Thursday’s attacks because of Lebanese opposition. Lebanon is a temporary member
of the Security Council, and statements such as those can only be issued by
“What happened in the UN was a travesty and ludicrous,” one
senior government official said. “You had a text agreed upon by 14 countries,
but torpedoed by the Lebanese.
Lebanon is controlled by Hezbollah, with
direct links to the Popular Resistance Committees [that carried out Thursday’s
Furthermore, the official said, the UN is indicting Hezbollah
for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
this not absurdity in the extreme?,” the official asked.
circumstances, how can anyone take the UN seriously?” The Jerusalem Post staff
contributed to this report.