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Israel to stay out of Palestinian fray

first_imgJERUSALEM – Israel’s defense minister vowed Thursday not to let Hamas’ near-takeover of Gaza spill over into violence against the Jewish state, but decided against taking action that would complicate the volatile situation, such as launching an invasion. Officials said that when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert meets President George W. Bush in Washington next week, he will instead recommend a policy aimed at preventing Hamas from capturing the West Bank. The Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said Olmert favors cutting contacts between the two Palestinian territories, which are separated by 25 miles of Israeli territory. Defense Minister Amir Peretz convened his top security officials to discuss possible Israeli reactions to the Gaza fighting but decided, for the time being, to stay out of the conflict. He issued a vague warning that Israel would not allow the violence to reach it, participants said. “If the Gaza Strip falls into Hamas hands this will have regional implications,” he warned earlier this week.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Security officials and analysts say Israel has nothing to gain from meddling in Gaza. “It’s too late for us to get involved. There is no aim we can achieve in a military operation,” said Reuven Pedatzur, an Israeli defense expert at the Center for Strategic Dialogue. “What are we supposed to do – take over the entire strip and hand it over to (Palestinian President Mahmoud) Abbas?” Some hard-line lawmakers propose just that – despite the fact Israel withdrew all its forces and settlers from the region two years ago. “It is high time for Israel to deliver a heavy blow to the Hamas terrorist network. If this will help Fatah regain control, I don’t mind, but we have to do it for our own sake,” said Yuval Steinitz of the hawkish Likud Party. Olmert has said he fears a Hamas victory, but ruled out Israeli support for the Fatah forces. Rather, he has floated the idea of deploying an international force on the Gaza-Egypt border. last_img read more