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Netanyahu: Israel Will Not Negotiate Under Fire

Security Cabinet meeting ends with assurance that the operation in Gaza will continue until quiet is achieved.
By Yoni Kempinski, Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 8/10/2014, 11:35 AM / Last Update: 8/10/2014, 12:02 PM

The IDF is continuing Operation Protective Edge, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced Sunday. 

"Operation Protective Edge is continuing," the premier stated. "No one announced its termination." 

"The campaign will continue until the mission is completed: an extended period of quiet in the South," he added, referring to Hamas escalation. "We said when the operation began and throughout the process: it will take time and patience." 

Israel will also not acquiesce to international pressure, he said. 

"Israel will not negotiate under fire," Netanyahu stressed. "Israel will continue to act in any way [necessary] to change the current situation and bring peace to all its citizens. We stand together in unity and determination, until we're finished [with the campaign]." 

Earlier, the Security Cabinet met to discuss the future of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, which is now in its thirty-fourth day. During the meeting, Interior Minister Gidon Sa'ar (Likud) stressed the importance of breaking Hamas's military power. 

"It was the right thing to do then, and it's the right thing to do now," Sa'ar stated, demanding strong deterrence against the Hamas terrorist organization. 

Sa'ar also stressed that the State of Israel needs to finish the operation to allow residents of the Gaza Belt area to return to their homes. 

Earlier this week, Hof Ashkelon Regional Council Yair Farjun noted that 60% of residents in communities close to Gaza have fled their homes. 

In addition, polls in several Israeli media outlets estimated that up to 80% of Gaza Belt residents have expressed reluctance to return home following the rocket fire, and indicate diminished trust in the IDF after it withdrew guards from the communities earlier this year. 

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) also pushed for greater involvement in the operation.

"This situation cannot continue," Liberman said. "If only you had listened to what I suggested on the first day of the operation, [but] we were already past that stage."

Liberman campaigned early on in the operation, as well as for several months beforehand, to retake Gaza. Now, he said, "what is left is to defeat Hamas, clean the area and leave as quickly as possible."

"We are approaching a point where we will have to make a decision," Communications Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said. "Even if it is the reoccupation of Gaza and toppling of Hamas, with all the factors involved, there will be no choice but to make a decision - a decision which is not that simple."

"We cannot continue to tolerate the situation for a long time or even a short time," he added. 

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has demanded Hamas's cooperation with a full cease-fire.

"If Hamas thinks it could exhaust us, it is wrong - we will return to negotiations only after the cease-fire," he said. "We will not compromise on a cease-fire and [an end to] terrorism." 

The meeting, which is still in session, will discuss whether or not to define Gaza as enemy territory - a move which would see Israel stripped of responsibility for damage to civilian areas and casualties. 

The security cabinet will also discuss the security situation in the south and nationwide, as well as two proposals - one to establish a funding and assistance program for veterans of Protective Edge, and one to launch a special rebuilding project for Gaza belt communities under heavy fire. 

As of Sunday afternoon, officials announced that the latter program - which would see 13.5 million shekel allocated to rebuild Gaza belt communities by 2016 - had been approved.