MKs: Gaza ops a nod to keep Lieberman in

MKs: Olmert fanning Gaza violence simply in order to keep Israel Beiteinu head from leaving government.

The recent escalation in violence with Gaza is connected to the instability of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's coalition, MKs said on Tuesday. The prime minister was encouraging an escalation in violence to improve the chances that Israel Beiteinu remain in the government, said Hadash Chairman Muhammad Barakei. "It is not enough the government is starving Gaza residents, but now it is claiming countless lives daily through military operations," Barakei said. "Palestinian blood is a terrible dowry meant to leave Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman 'wedded' to the current government." A volunteer at Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha bordering the Strip was killed early Tuesday morning by a Palestinian sniper. A subsequent IDF operation killed 17 Gazans, including a son of Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar. MK Arye Eldad (National Union-National Religious Party) said that the killing of Carlos Andres Muscara Chavez, 21, a volunteer from Quito, Ecuador, had brought the government to a crossroads. "The government must decide: either eliminate terrorism or surrender to it," said Eldad. "Abandoning the country's southern residents to snipers and Katyusha launchers is an ongoing being crime committed by the Israeli government." Members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, who yesterday heard from Olmert that a large-scale military offensive in the Gaza Strip should be avoided, said that they were confused by the messages coming from the prime minister. "Olmert is weakening the IDF through his confusing and constantly vacillating policies. Like in the Second Lebanon War, Olmert is failing to act decisively and deal with this as emergency situation. Once more the citizens of Israel are suffering," said MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud).