Gaza debate off due to Ravitz's death

PM, Barak, Livni had been expected to elaborate on accomplishments of 3-week op in Knesset session.

olmert livni all smiles 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi )
olmert livni all smiles 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi )
Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik postponed Monday's plenum session on the IDF's recent Gaza offensive due to the death of United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Avraham Ravitz. Ravitz passed away overnight Sunday at Jerusalem's Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, succumbing to a heart disease. Itzik had originally called the session for last week and then agreed to delay it until all IDF soldiers were out of Gaza and Operation Cast Lead was officially over, her spokesman said on Sunday. The trio who managed the offensive - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni - had been expected to attend the debate and to elaborate on what was accomplished in the three weeks of warfare. The issues that were due be discussed by the MKs included the renewal of smuggling from Egypt to Gaza via tunnels that were either not damaged by the IAF's strikes or have been since repaired. Operation Cast Lead accomplished its goals, Barak told ministers at Sunday's cabinet meeting: Hurting Hamas badly and "rehabilitating" Israel's deterrence vis-a-vis Hamas, which has not fired any rockets at Israel for the past week, as well as with other radical organizations and states. Barak had been expected to stress to the MKs that the offensive helped produce a mechanism to stop the smuggling of weapons into Gaza with the assistance of Egypt, the US and Europe. The legislature had also been due to discuss the humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza, including who will pay for it (the EU or other bodies) and how it will be delivered. Olmert, Barak and Livni were expected to present a government decision to allocate funds to compensate residents of Sderot, Ashkelon, and the Eshkol, Sdot Negev and Sha'ar Hanegev regions for damage caused by the war. The failure to free captured soldier Gilad Schalit was also expected to be brought up by the MKs. Right-wing factions such as the Likud and Israel Beiteinu were expected to say that the offensive has failed has long as Hamas is still in power, the arms smuggling continues and Israel does not control the Philadelphi Corridor and the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.