Sunday, January 04, 2009

Olmert: We Did All We Could

Hillel Fendel Olmert: We Did All We Could

“This is an unavoidable mission,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Sunday morning, speaking publicly for the first time since the week-old war began.

“I can look everyone in the eyes,” he said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting,” and say that the government did all it could before this mission… In a responsible and determined country, it is inconceivable that the home front would be a target for attacks.” In the meeting that followed, the Cabinet voted unanimously in favor of the ground operation, which began on Saturday night. Only Raleb Majadele, an Arab minister, abstained in the vote. Majadele was widely criticized, including by Olmert, for having absented himself from last week’s meeting in protest of the IDF offensive. “We will solve the conflict only via ways of peace,” Majadele said.

Three Years to the Day

Some observers noted wryly that the day of the vote authorizing the major ground offensive into Gaza to destroy Hamas terrorist infastructures was held exactly three years to the day after Ariel Sharon, the man responsible for Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, fell into the coma in which he still lingers.

Yishai and Ramon Demand End to Hamas

On Friday, a forum of government ministers and top security officials voted by a 10-2 margin to “instruct the IDF to continue the current offensive and move to the stage of ground entry.” Ministers Eli Yishai (Shas) and Chaim Ramon (Kadima) abstained, demanding that the collapse of the Hamas regime in Gaza be listed as a war objective.

“Now, more than ever,” Olmert said on Sunday morning, “the Nation of Israel is one nation. [It cannot that a strong, daring and well-trained army like the Israel Defense Forces would not defend the home front.”

No Stone Unturned

Addressing the families of soldiers in Gaza, the outgoing Prime Minister said, “I have thought about you very much since this operation began. When we decided to give the orders for the ground operation, we thought about whether there was any other step or effort that we could do before we send our boys to a place rife with dangers, a place from which some of them might not return.”

“In the end,” Olmert said, “we reached the conclusion that in light of the recommendation of the IDF Chief of Staff [Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkena and the heads of the army, there was no alternative other than a ground operation in Gaza. It is unavoidable.”

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