Olmert opposes widespread military operation in Gaza Strip; Spain offers international peace conference

Published November 16th, 2006 - 03:15 GMT

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday voiced reservations over a widespread military operation in the Gaza Strip similar in scope to Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank in 2002. Instead, Olmert said while returning to Israel from a US visit, he favored pinpoint strikes.


"There are many opinions on how to deal with the Qassam fire," he said, according to Haaretz. "We have to remember that this war will not be over in one blow."

"Those who are always bringing up Defensive Shield as an example and calling for a similar operation in the Gaza Strip need to remember that the terrorism will never end altogether, and in the West Bank it continues to this day.


"I take this (rocket) fire seriously, but each of our actions in Gaza will last according to information, preparation and the ability to curtail this fire as much as possible."


Meanwhile, Spain is ready to sponsor a new Middle East peace initiative along with France and Italy, the Spanish prime minister said Thursday. According to the AP, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced the initiative at a summit with President Jacques Chirac of France. "Peace between Israel and the Palestinians means to a large extent peace on the international scene," Zapatero told a news conference.


The peace plan will be presented to an EU summit next month, Zapatero said, adding he hopes to win the backing of Britain and Germany as well.


He said it had five components: an immediate cease-fire, formation of a national unity government by the Palestinians that can gain international recognition, an exchange of prisoners - including the Israeli soldiers whose kidnapping sparked the war in Lebanon and fighting in Gaza Strip this summer - talks between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and an international mission in Gaza to monitor a cease-fire.


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