Israel is inching toward using military force against Hamas in the Gaza Strip because Egyptian cease-fire efforts there are not "ripening," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday. Olmert, who was wrapping up a US visit dominated by discussions on the dangers of a nuclear Iran, said Israel was not eager to carry out a military operation in the Hamas-controlled territory but would not be deterred if the threat continued. "As it looks now, it's closer to a military operation than to another arrangement," he told reporters. The reason is because Egyptian peace efforts "are not ripening in a way that can bring a cease-fire," he added. On Thursday, Olmert met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and spoke by phone with presumptive presidential nominees Barack Obama and John McCain. He also spoke with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.