Ayalon: Gaza op must be carefully planned

Labor MK says IDF must ensure invasion of territory bolsters Palestinian moderates in the Strip.

Ami Ayalon 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Ami Ayalon 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
"Before the IDF embarks on a major incursion into Gaza, it needs to carefully consider how to operate so that it bolsters Palestinian moderates, including those in the Gaza Strip," Israel Radio quoted Minister Ami Ayalon (Labor)as saying Saturday. Ayalon added that under no circumstances should Israel talk to Hamas but that it must continue to negotiate with the Palestinians in order to present a political alternative to the group. The minister called for the entire home front budget to be transferred to the Defense Ministry "because it is the ministry responsible for the home front's protection." Regarding municipalities in Gaza belt neighborhoods, Ayalon lamented the absence of a "clear goal" and said protection for every person and family in Sderot and the Gaza periphery against rocket attacks was vital. Concerning the US National Intelligence Estimate downgrading the Iranian threat, the minister said the report did not change the belief that Iran was developing into an existential threat against Israel. Ayalon said no operation should be ruled out to counter this threat. "The threat is not only against Israel but against the whole world and we must continue to work with the international community on the issue. We must be prepared for the reality that in a few years, one of our neighbors may have nuclear arms," he told the radio station. On other issues, Ayalon called on Labor Chairman Ehud Barak to extend the Evacuation-Compensation Law to apply to West Bank settlers and said Labor must seriously consider its position in the government after the publication of the final Winograd report, which he predicted would be "very severe."