An uneasy triumvirate of Israeli politicians united to plan the offensive against Gaza, the Washington Post reports. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who will compete to become prime minister in February's election, both want to convince the electorate they can successfully defend Israel. For outgoing PM Ehud Olmert, who resigned under pressure from a corruption scandal, the offensive could be the last chance to leave a positive legacy.
Another candidate, hardliner Benjamin Netanyahu, opened up a wide lead before the offensive with a promise to take firm action against Hamas. That lead has now shrunk and analysts believe the decision to strike at Gaza will continue paying political dividends—if it manages to halt Hamas rocket attacks. Palestinian leaders, meanwhile, say that their people always suffer from Israeli shows of strength ahead of elections.