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Officials close to outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert blasted Defense Minister Ehud Barak for comments quoted Wednesday in Haaretz in support of a week-long "humanitarian cease-fire" in the Gaza Strip.

"The remarks constitute a lack of national responsibility," the officials said. "Ministers speaking to the media about the conduct of the war touching on cease-fire initiatives are very grave."

The political sources added that, "Hamas sees the scenes and hears the voices - and these comments are a shot in the arm for Hamas and its leaders."

On Wednesday, Olmert did not convene the political-security cabinet to discuss whether the operations should go on.

He has also delayed a meeting with senior ministers in an effort to allow the military operations in Gaza to continue.

On Tuesday, Olmert did not meet with Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, both of whom support a cease-fire.