The diplomatic-security cabinet on Friday rejected a United Nations Security Council cease-fire resolution and ordered the Israel Defense Forces to continue its current ground operation against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.
In a communique released immediately after the cabinet session on Friday, the government stated it would not accept the UN resolution, declaring that "the IDF will continue to act in order to attain the objectives of the operation - to bring about a change in the security situation in the south of the country - this in accordance with the plans that have been approved upon embarking on the operation."
"Efforts to prevent the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip will continue," the cabinet statement added.
As such, the cabinet also said Israel would continue to provide humanitarian relief to the local population in Gaza. The army will maintain its policy of declaring a temporary cease-fire so as to allow the supply of food and medicine to reach Gazans in need, the cabinet said.
The cabinet heard reports detailing the military advancement into Gaza as well as the latest on cease-fire talks with Egyptian officials. Amos Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry's diplomatic-security division, met with his Egyptian counterparts on Thursday.
The government said it would not accept any cease-fire and that the IDF would not withdraw from Gaza until the establishment of a mechanism that would ensure a halt to weapons-smuggling from Egypt into the Hamas-ruled territory.
The cabinet stated that the IDF operation would continue given that Hamas rocket fire has not ceased during the cease-fire deliberations at the Security Council. "Israel has a complete right of self-defense," the communique read.
Earlier Friday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected the resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza as "unworkable" and, noting Palestinians fired rockets at Israel on Friday, said the army would go on defending Israelis.
In Israel's first official response to the resolution, Olmert's office said Israel "has never agreed to let an external body decide its right to protect the security of its citizens."
The military "will continue acting to protect Israeli citizens and will carry out the missions it was given," the statement read.
"The firing of rockets this morning only goes to show that the UN decision is unworkable and will not be adhered to by the murderous Palestinian organizations," he said in a statement.
Hours after the Security Council passed Resolution 1860 calling for an immediate cease-fire in Israel's offensive in Gaza, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Friday that Israel would continue to act only in its interests and according to its own security needs.
"Israel has acted, is acting and will act only according to its considerations, the security needs of its citizens and its right to self-defense," a statement said. It made no direct reference to how Israel would treat the call for a ceasefire.
Livni, along with Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, convened in session on Friday to discusss the Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cessation of violence and their next moves in the conflict.
The UN resolution, drafted by Western powers, "stresses the urgency of and calls for an immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza."
It also called for arrangements in Gaza to prevent arms smuggling to Palestinian militants and reopen border crossings, and for "unimpeded provision" and distribution of aid in Gaza, where more than 750 Palestinians, many of them civilians, have been killed.
The resolution was passed by a majority vote of 14-0. The United States abstained, saying it was interested in looking at alternative drafts, but voiced support for the objectives of the resolution.