One should listen carefully to the words uttered just minutes ago by Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the wake of the military operation in Gaza. He was not talking about toppling Hamas’s rule – as both his Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu have advocated just days ago. Olmert, burned by his painful 2006 Lebanon experience, rejected the ambitious goals that these two contenders for Prime Ministership have made parts of their campaign.
Olmert sides with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, leader of the Labor Party and less likely contender for prime minister, who last Sunday cautioned against confusing rhetoric with policies the government is likely to pursue:
I am aware of the fact that we are living in a period that is naturally sensitive and that there are many people who think that if one makes aggressive and daring statements, then these statements solve all problems. I have no intention to compete with any of those who issue such statements.
Today, appearing in a short press conference, the Prime Minister conveyed a similarly cautious message: The operation has a very specific goal – to give the Israeli civilians living in the southern part of the country their life back. When Hamas will agree to commit itself to “understandings” – according to which rockets can’t be launched into Israel – the goal of this operation will be achieved. Until the next round.