Hatnua Hahadasha-Meretz calls upon PM, Barak to not expand Gaza op

The recently merged Hatnua Hahadasha-Meretz movement called Sunday on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to refrain from expanding the Gaza campaign into a ground operation which would entrap Israel in "yet another quagmire, this time in Gaza." "Protecting our southern residents necessitates efforts toward a cease-fire and renewal of the calm, under conditions that would ensure the residents' long-term quiet, and end the mutual bloodshed," the announcement continued. "We call upon the prime minister to swiftly initiate direct or mediated talks with Hamas, in order to achieve these goals," the statement concluded.