Olmert, Barak clash over Gaza offensive


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak clashed over the outcome of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.

At its weekly meeting Sunday,  the Cabinet discussed the continued rocket fire from Gaza on southern Israel.

"What the defense minister suggests proves that Operation Cast Lead was worthless because after we crushed them [Hamas], you’re proposing that we accept their conditions offered to us before the operation," Olmert said. "This is the truth."

Barak disagreed with Olmert’s conditioning opening the Gaza crossings on a deal for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. Permanent cease-fire talks have been cut off since that demand.

Olmert accused Barak of mismanagement, saying "we went to a lull in June 2008. The talks were managed by the defense establishment, headed by the defense minister. The defense minister’s stand at the time, as it is now, was in favor of something vague, inexplicit and not in writing."

Olmert said that during the lull, Hamas was able to stockpile weapons and that the defense establishment did nothing to respond to the smuggling. 

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