The Israelis have killed another top Hamas commander in Gaza, according to Fox News. An Israeli air strike took out Wael Nasser and his assistant, both of whom were riding motorcycles. A bystander was also killed. The Israeli military says that the two Hamas leaders were responsible for many attacks against Israelis, including suicide bombings, and were planning further attacks.
Meanwhile, according to Fox, Ariel Sharon is pushing for unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and a few West Bank settlements under essentially the same plan that his party voted down in a referendum in early May. Attempts to find a compromise that would have won him a Cabinet majority failed. Thus, says Fox, Sharon decided that if the plan was going to bring down his government he wasn’t going to water it down. Sharon was also concerned that a watered-down plan would not have strong U.S. and Egyptian backing, which is viewed as crucial to a successful implementation.
UPDATE: Here is a report from the Washington Times on the seven hour Israeli cabinet meeting on Sharon’s withdrawal plan. The tense meeting failed to produce a vote and Sharon has threatened to change the makeup of his government in order to push the plan through. The Times notes that “a shake-up could open the door to a coalition with the moderate opposition Labor Party but also could trigger a rebellion against Sharon in Likud, which already is in turmoil over the Gaza plan.” Meanwhile, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Daniel Ayalon, insists that the U.S. is not applying any pressure on Sharon to adhere to his original withdrawal plan.
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