Livni calls for reassessment of 'calm'

FM slams Barak; Mofaz: New strategies need to be implemented; Ramon backs end to cease-fire.

haim ramon 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
haim ramon 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Foreign Minister and Kadima chair Tzipi Livni attacked Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday, implying that he is not aware of the reality in the Gaza Strip. Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, Livni called for more dialogue between herself, Barak, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on whether to continue the faltering truce with Hamas. According to Livni, "the cease-fire agreement will end shortly in any case, and is not being honored by the Palestinian side. At the moment, we need renewed thought on whether we will act." "There is no cease-fire in Gaza," she went on, "anyone who calls this 'calm' doesn't know what's happening there. Whoever is responsible for security needs to act." In response, Barak said, "the situation in Gaza is known. The reality requires us to weigh opinions, responsibility and politics." Voicing similar sentiments to Livni's, Transportation Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz told Israel Radio Sunday morning that Israel must change its policy regarding Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Mofaz stressed that it is up to Israel to send a clear message to the group and to other terror organizations, that they are not immune to a blow to their leadership, their infrastructure, or their funding. The minister noted that he opposes a ground strike in the Strip, but said there are new strategies that can be implemented. He declined to specify such strategies, saying it was advisable not to discuss details. Mofaz is currently in Washington to meet with US officials, and attended the Saban Forum over the weekend, where he spoke of the Iranian nuclear threat. His comments came as Kassam and mortar shell fire on the western Negev from Gaza continued, with at least 20 rockets launched over the weekend. Also responding to the continued rocket fire, Vice Premier Haim Ramon called for an immediate end to the cease-fire, and a strike on Hamas infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. "A strategic decision is needed, and regretfully it has not yet been made," he told Army Radio on Sunday morning. "We can't continue with Hamas control in the Strip," he went on, calling "Hamastan in the Gaza Strip" an "intolerable threat to the State of Israel." Ramon also criticized Barak, claiming he supports the cease-fire despite "hundreds of Kassams landing in the Gaza belt area." "Only the defense minister thinks there is a cease-fire," he said. "There's calm in Gaza; there's no calm on the Gaza belt." Ramon claimed that Barak was avoiding making the decisions needed to combat the rocket threat. He clarified, however, that he was not suggesting an attack on Gaza, but rather targeting rocket launch squads. "We did it in Lebanon, we targeted the sources of fire, the same needs to be done in the Gaza Strip," Ramon said. "We need to strike Hamas infrastructure and we need to paralyze their power station. The economic blockade is only partial, and we need to do a lot more."