FM: No state until rockets stop

Livni says no peace while Gaza terror continues; Sheetrit: Army should wipe out Gaza neighborhood.

wounded sderot 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
wounded sderot 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
There will be no peace between Israelis and Palestinians as long as Gaza terrorists continue launching rockets at Israeli towns, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Sunday. "There is no hope for any kind of peace or the vision of the Palestinian state which includes the Gaza Strip without real change on the ground," Livni told reporters. Earlier, Olmert said that "despite the rage and pain over the wounded Twito brothers and the heavy rocket fire on Sderot, rage is not a plan of action." Olmert was referring to the previous day's Kassam attack on the western Negev town that seriously wounded 19-year-old Rami Twito and his eight-year-old brother Osher, who lost a leg. "We need to act in a methodical and organized fashion, over time," said Olmert at the start of Sunday's cabinet meeting. "That's what we're doing, that's what we'll continue to do. We'll continue to go after all terror operatives, their handlers and their dispatchers." The prime minister went on to say that in recent months, approximately 200 terrorists had been killed in the Gaza Strip, and hundreds of others had been wounded, asserting this was "a result of initiated, aggressive, planned and comprehensive activity by the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency.)" Olmert said he had held consultations with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi to discuss ways of fortifying the western Negev as well as how to act against the terror operatives. Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit called on the IDF to choose a Gaza neighborhood to make an example of, warn residents to evacuate and wipe it out. "That is how those in Gaza will understand that we are serious," he said, adding that all the Hamas leaders must be brought to justice, "or we must bring justice to them." Sheetrit went on to say that the IDF must act decisively and with greater force against those responsible for terror activities. "It is inconceivable that we are living in a country where citizens are wounded every day but we are not responding with the appropriate force," he said. Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz also called for a revised course of action in Gaza, reasoning that currently Israeli operations lack focus. "Our goals in Gaza are not clearly defined," Mofaz told ministers during the weekly cabinet meeting. "Is it deterrence? Is it a reduction or cessation of rocket fire and terror?" "We need to decide now what our goals are, and then decide on our course of action," the transportation minister continued. "We need to act decisively against the four centers of gravity: The leadership, the military wing, the infrastructure, and the money. Why not hit [senior Hamas official] Mahmoud Zahar, who is encouraging the shooting." Meanwhile, Vice Premier Haim Ramon said that "whoever fires Kassams at Israel is a war criminal according to international conventions," adding that "according to such conventions, Israel is permitted to return fire." The vice premier added that Israel must cut electricity to Gaza as soon as a rocket is fired so that a direct link is formed between the Kassam attacks and the power cuts. Regarding the possibility of a ceasefire with Hamas, Ramon said that as soon as "Hamas stops firing Kassams there will be a tahadiya (a period of calm)," stressing, "We will not negotiate with them." Earlier Sunday, Environment Minister Gideon Ezra said that the IDF must act at the right time in order to surprise the enemy. "One of the lessons learned from the Second Lebanon War was that we must not talk too much," he told Israel Radio. During the cabinet meeting, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai said: "What is happening at the moment is that we are talking too much but not acting. We need to be decisive because if we are not, the situation will be catastrophic." Immigration Absorption Ya'acov Edri said that "the time has come to solve the Sderot problem," warning that the government "won't last much longer" if it is not solved. Earlier, several ministers called on Olmert to cancel Sunday's trip to Germany in the wake of the rocket attacks. Environment Minister and former deputy Shin Bet head Gideon Ezra told Israel Radio that "this is a time when he needs to stay at home." However, the environment minister rebuffed criticism of the government over its response to the rocket fire. "We must let the government respond in the right place at the right time," he said. On Saturday, Likud faction chairman Gideon Sa'ar called on Olmert and Barak, who is due to travel to Turkey, to delay their trips abroad. He said that Olmert and Barak must answer to the people of Sderot, and not to the people of Berlin or Ankara. Gil Hoffman contributed to this report