Israel is on a crash course with Hamas, and if a cease-fire is not reached, the clash could come any time in the next few days, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday. Speaking at a Labor faction meeting, Barak implied that a confrontation with Hamas was inevitable. It could happen in days or weeks without a ceasefire, he said, or in months with one. "Fighting is taking place daily, without cessation, in the strip," Barak continued. "I don't know if we will have a ceasefire first, or a confrontation, but to those who want to hurry up and launch a wide-scale operation: Wouldn't it first be worthwhile to exhaust negotiations?" However, the defense minister went on to emphasize that Israel was currently not talking with Hamas. "The Egyptians aren't just arbitrators sent by the United Nations, they also have an interest in the matter," Barak said. "If we want to create the reality of a cease-fire, we need to test its character. "Our demands are clear: An end to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, and that Hamas cease strengthening itself in Gaza," Barak said. Turning to politics, the Labor chairman said that "especially now, we must remain unified in action." Also, he expressed regret at MK Ephraim Sneh's decision to leave the party and establish his new political party, Israel Hazakah. However, in a conciliatory gesture, Barak acknowledged that Sneh's move was in keeping with the "desire of an honorable man."