Lull in Kassam fire doesn't count as 'calm'

Israeli officials were reluctant Sunday to say Hamas had taken a decision to halt its rocket fire, despite a few days of relative quiet in Sderot, Ashkelon and the western Negev. "A couple days of calm are not enough," one senior official in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said. "They need to stop the attacks, period. Then we will know if there is calm." Even though Maj.- Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security bureau, held talks in Cairo on Sunday with the Egyptians about the situation in Gaza, the officials said emphatically that Israel was not negotiating any type of cease-fire with Hamas, or through a third party. "We always said that if they stopped shooting, we would have no reason to respond," Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev said. "We are not taking action there because we want to, but because we have to. If there were no rockets launched on us from Gaza, we would have no reason to respond to the attacks." Gilad met Egypt's intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to discuss the ongoing crisis in the Gaza Strip. "The Israeli envoy Amos Gilad came to be briefed by Suleiman over Egypt's assessment for the situation (in Gaza Strip) and the ways to restore calm, according to what we have been informed by our security officials' meetings with Hamas representatives," presidential spokesman Suleiman Awwad told reporters following the meeting. He refused to elaborate further. In a related development, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met visiting US special envoy for security James Jones on Sunday and said the situation in Gaza would have ramifications on Israel's future security demands regarding a possible arrangement in the West Bank. Jones is in the process of drawing up a plan about how to provide security in the interim period between when Israel leaves large swaths of the West Bank under any possible peace agreement and when the Palestinian Authority is able to take over control of the vacated areas. He is expected to submit a report by the summer. "The situation in Gaza and the terror attacks strengthens the lack of faith in the process," Livni said. "Israel is obligated to give an answer to terrorism, and any process will need to give an unequivocal answer to its security needs." Livni, meanwhile, left Sunday night for a trip to the US where she is scheduled to meet Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Adviser Stephen Headley, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. She will also travel to Boston to give a couple of lectures, including one at Harvard.