Israel resumed Egyptian-mediated talks on a proposed cease-fire with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Israel dispatched Amos Gilad, a senior Defense Ministry official, to Cairo on Sunday for an update on Egypt’s efforts to secure a Gaza truce.
Jerusalem has indicated it would hold fire if Hamas ends cross-border shelling attacks and weapons smuggling, and frees Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held hostage in Gaza for almost two years.
Hamas has balked at the demands, insisting that Israel release hundreds of jailed Palestinian terrorists in a separate swap for Shalit.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert signaled support for Egypt’s efforts but hinted that he is close to ordering a military sweep of Gaza to crush Hamas.
“The State of Israel wants quiet and full security in both the immediate and long terms, for the residents of the south, and we will need to make decisions so that this will be the result. If this result can come about through the efforts that Egypt is making, how much the better,” he told his Cabinet in broadcast remarks.
“If this result does not come about due to these efforts, it will come about by other means. We have no intention of dragging things out for long,” Olmert added. “The government has no higher, greater or more significant obligation than providing security to its residents. This is what causes me, Defense Minister Barak, armed forces commanders and security service heads to lose sleep every day.”