The end of Operation Protective Edge depends on Hamas, not Israel, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (HaTnua) made clear Thursday.
"I never thought about how to reach an agreement with terrorist organizations," Livni said in an interview with Walla! News. "We must hit terrorist organizations."
She added that a ceasefire agreement, while brokered by Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, would not solve much. Livni's hard-line stance will be surprising to some given the criticism she faced during her former role as chief negotiator with the PA, when she was accused of being too willing to compromise.
"Hamas is the problem," she said. "Some people seem to think every military activity should be brought to an end in imagined agreements, and that an agreement should be made with Hamas."
"I say no - it's not truly strategic to talk to Hamas, to pay for quiet," she stated, "I'm not ready to give extremist elements in the region what they want to see."
"We do not need their (Hamas's) approval for a cease-fire," Livni clarified. "I am in favor of deterrence, of executing military operations against Hamas until it is deterred."
Livni also, surprisingly, rejected the assumption that - despite the IDF's progress in destroying terror tunnels - the time for a cease-fire is now.
"It's too early to tell whether we have reached [that deterrence]," she said. "We are currently working hard on the ground to pause the operation to check [our status]."
Livni did stress that Israel "should" work with the international community and the PA to broker a ceasefire - even if it becomes a matter of Israel, the international community, and the PA on the one side, and Hamas, Turkey, or Qatar on the other, in her words.
"Our arrangements should be made with the world, and with the PA, who wants to talk to us," she insisted, adding that even if a one-sided truce was reached, the IAF should respond.
"We live in a tough neighborhood," Livni said, "Hamas is an Islamist extremist, and they are not going to change tomorrow morning after this operation."
"I don't promise that, tomorrow morning, we will wake up to being like Europe," she said. "The question is: how do we deal with it?"
Livni, who has been a staunch supporter of peace talks despite Fatah's unity pact with Hamas earlier this year, has surprisingly advocated an operation in Gaza to counter the terror since the early hours of the offensive.