Ramon: Truce 'triumph for radical Islam'

Vice premier says Gaza cease-fire will send Hamas message that there's no point moderating stance.

ramon thinks 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
ramon thinks 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Vice Premier Haim Ramon on Tuesday reacted harshly to reports of an imminent Gaza cease-fire, calling it a victory for radical Islam. "I am against a truce, because it is another triumph for radical Islam. It won in Lebanon and now it is about to win in Gaza. So what is the point of being moderate? Why would Hamas be interested in a resolution?" said Ramon at a Haifa University conference. Ramon, together with Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz and Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, abstained from a cabinet vote last Wednesday to refrain from embarking on a large-scale military operation in Gaza and instead to give more time to Egyptian-mediated truce efforts, although none of the ministers voted against the decision. Ramon said that the Gaza truce deal must be brought to for a referendum. "The government must reach the framework of an agreement and then bring to a vote," he said. "Any significant agreement with the Palestinians requires a referendum." National Religious Party MK Zevulun Orlev called the agreement "a balloon that will burst" and added that "a ceasefire agreement without Gilad Schalit is a moral crime that conveys the message of abandoning the kidnapped soldier to his fate." MK Arye Eldad of the National Union/National Religious Party said that "because of a corrupt prime minister and an insecure defense minister, Israel is capitulating to Hamas and accepting a cease-fire that will allow Hamas to hit Ashdod and Kiryat Gat later on. The residents of Israel will take note today of who is to blame when the entire center of the country turns into a war zone - because of Olmert and Barak." In contrast, Meretz chairman Haim Oron expressed hope that the reports of a truce agreement were true. "Under the current circumstances, it is the best solution in order to bring calm to Gaza-belt communities," he said. "The government, as well as the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, must make every effort to abide by the cease-fire and simultaneously, it must expedite negotiations with [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas and [Palestinian negotiator] Ahmad Qurei [Abu Ala]." During his speech Tuesday, Ramon also expressed his opposition to the way Israel was negotiating with Syria. "The way in which Syria is conducting the negotiations is unacceptable, in my opinion. They are saying 'first, we will determine the borders and then we will negotiate.' They want to accomplish different things - and they already have - without having to do anything."