The Israeli cabinet has discussed the fighting in Gaza. Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel was close to fulfilling its aims, but called for patience and determination. His Defence Minister Ehud Barak saluted the army’s performance, but said diplomatic means were being explored to end the operation.Olmert justified the continuing bombardment of Gaza, in defiance of United Nations’ calls for a ceasefire, by saying Israel had the fundamental right to protect its people. He accused the UN of taking sides, saying resolution 1860 – the ceasefire call – did not explicitly denounce Hamas rocket firing. The cabinet must also decide whether to authorise the army’s demand for an escalation in its operations in Gaza.