Friday, June 6, 2008

Olmert, Barak Say Israel Close to Launching Gaza Op


"06/06/2008 "Israel is close to launching an operation in Gaza," Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told reporters moments before lifting off the tarmac in Washington en route back to Israel on Thursday evening.

Olmert said he sees eye to eye with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the latter's assessment of the probable necessity at hand to launch a wide-scale operation in the Gaza Strip.

"We're nearing a crossroads in Gaza, both in terms of setting a timetable and the exacerbation of the problem," Olmert said. During a tour of the kibbutz factory hit by a Hamas mortar barrage earlier in the day, Barak said such a military operation would likely precede any ceasefire agreement with Palestinian armed groups.

"There's a genuine problem here, one that I have spoken at great lengths about during my visit here," said Olmert. "We aren't gung-ho about a possible military operation, but we certainly are not afraid of one.

"This isn't a question of mediation efforts opposite Hamas. There are negotiations, via mediators, but there are also discussions with the Egyptians on the stipulations without which Israel will not commit to certain clauses," he said.

"Military action is closer than even, it appears likely there will be an operation prior to the calm (truce)," [War is Peace!] Barak said in the afternoon as he met with municipal leaders of Gaza-vicinity communities under constant bombardment........"

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