Cease­fire won’t end Ne­tanyahu’s bat­tles on the po­lit­i­cal front

ANAL­Y­SIS

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY ANSHEL PFEFFER

A po­lit­i­cal bat­tle awaits Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu the mo­ment a cease­fire with Ha­mas will be on the ta­ble. The Is­raeli se­cu­rity cab­i­net, which will be the fo­rum where the pro­posal is voted on, will be split on whether to ac­cept a truce or con­tinue ad­vanc­ing into Gaza.

Mr Ne­tanyahu re­sisted calls from within his coali­tion for a ground of­fen­sive for the first 10 days of Op­er­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge and gave the order only after Ha­mas re­fused the Egyp­tian cease­fire pro­posal and the IDF gen­eral staff urged ac­tion to deal with the ex­ten­sive tun­nel sys­tem they feared Ha­mas would use to launch at­tacks across the bor­der on Is­raeli civil­ians.

So far, the most stri­dent voice in favour of a much wider cam­paign — and not stop­ping — is For­eign Min­is­ter Avig­dor Lieber­man, who said last week that “the op­er­a­tion must not end un­til Is­rael con­trols all the Gaza Strip.” Mr Lieber­man has emerged in re­cent weeks as an in­ter­nal op­po­si­tion to the Prime Min­is­ter within the coali­tion but Mr Ne­tanyahu’s Likud col­league, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Gi­lad Er­dan also said on Tues­day: “I hope we don’t have a cease­fire be­fore we de­stroy the threat of the tun­nels and rock­ets.” Some min­is­ters have warned they will vote against a cease­fire and even re­sign if a cease­fire is signed be­fore the IDF be­lieves it has de­stroyed all the Ha­mas tun­nels.

Mr Ne­tanyahu tried to lower ex­pec­ta­tions in a state­ment on Sun­day in which he said that “there are tar­gets that can’t be achieved just like that, with one at­tack and that’s it. It takes a process.”

In the se­cu­rity cab­i­net, he is backed up by De­fence Min­is­ter Moshe Yaalon and cen­tre-left mem­bers Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni but he will find it very dif­fi­cult to re­ply to his right-wing col­leagues who will ac­cuse him of miss­ing the op­por­tu­nity of de­stroy­ing Ha­mas.

It’s an aim that many of the Prime Min­is­ter’s vot­ers sup­port, even though he doesn’t be­lieve it’s fea­si­ble.

PHOTO: FLASH90

Heartfelt views: Ne­tanyahu with mil­i­tary and po­lit­i­cal ad­vis­ers

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