Foreign Minister Shimon Peres Peres is very worried about the expected international reaction as soon as the world learns the details of the tough battle in the Jenin refugee camps, where more than 100 Palestinians have already been killed in fighting with IDF forces. In private, Peres is referring to the battle as a "massacre."
IDF officers also expressed grave reservations Monday over the operation in Jenin. "Because of the dangers," they said, "the soldiers are almost not advancing on foot. The bulldozers are simply 'shaving' the homes and causing terrible destruction. When the world sees the pictures of what we have done there, it will do us immense damage."
"However many wanted men we kill in the refugee camp, and however much of the terror infrastructure we expose and destroy there, there is still no justification for causing such great destruction."
Peres, who is feeling increasingly isolated in the government - Sharon added three hardline ministers to his cabinet Monday - believes Arafat is still irreplaceable at this stage.
He does not regard the documents that Sharon presented Monday in the Knesset as a "smoking gun" that irrefutably proves that Arafat was directly linked to ordering terrorist activity. And Israel's isolation of the Palestinian leader, he believes, only enhanced his prestige and turned him into the key player.
Despite his harsh criticism, however, and his belief that Labor will not be able to remain much longer in the government, Peres is in no hurry to quit. He is telling his closest associates that after the fighting ends and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has visited, the decision will be made. If Powell presents a political plan, Labor will want to fight for it in the government.
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