Labor party chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
With a maximum of 75,000 reserve troops approved and soldiers amassing along the Gaza border, politicians in the opposition on Saturday demanded an exit strategy ahead of a possible ground operation.
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich told Channel 2 that Israel "needs to find a point of exit" that would allow it to maintain the operation's substantial achievements without losing the international community's support.
Yacimovich described Operation Pillar of Defense, which continued into its fourth day with strikes from the air, sea and land artillery, as legitimate, and said it continued action could carry on for a few more days in order to reach the goals set by Israel's leadership.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid praised the government's "disproportionate" attacks on Gaza, but said an exit strategy was necessary to avoid re-occupying the Strip.
"The government is acting rightly, and a disproportionate reaction was necessary because we cannot allow Hamas to control the level of the flames," Lapid said.
"Now we must decide what our exit strategy is, because what we don't want is to occupy Gaza. Our goal is to return quiet, and at the same time to conduct diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinian Authority," he continued.
The leftist Meretz party, on the other head, said a ground invasion would only escalate the conflict and lead to more killings and hatred.
"Meretz calls on the government to do the worthy and responsible thing and have talks with Hamas mediated by Egypt and other international mediators, in order to reach and ensure a long-term cease fire," Meretz said in a statement.
On Friday, Meretz leader Zahava Gal-On worried about the scale of a possible invasion, noting that 2008's Operation Cast Lead required only 10,000 reserve troops.
Even Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman seemed to tacitly agree, saying that a ground operation would have to "go all the way."
Speaking at a cultural event in Kiryat Motzkin on Saturday, Liberman said, "If ground forces enter Gaza, we can't stop in the middle, we have to go all the way."
Israel's failure to do so during Operation Cast Lead in 2008, he said, meant that the operation's goals remained unmet while Israel paid a heavy diplomatic price.