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Israel Must End West Bank Occupation - Former Deputy Defense Minister

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Former Deputy Defense Minister of Israel Ephraim Sneh said Tuesday the ongoing humanitarian and strategic crisis in Gaza and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank must end through negotiations.

MOSCOW, July 23 (RIA Novosti) - Former Deputy Defense Minister of Israel Ephraim Sneh said Tuesday the ongoing humanitarian and strategic crisis in Gaza and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank must end through negotiations.

“I am in favor of ending our occupation of the West Bank through negotiating with the Palestinians,” Sneh said during an Israel Policy Forum conference call.

“But a conflict with Hamas has nothing to do with the occupation,” he added.

“Those who are the staunch supporters of a two state solution, negotiating with Abbas, are those who call for breaking the backbone of the Hamas military wing,” Sneh said on Israel’s strategic objective.

While critical of the Benjamin Netanyahu government, Sneh said Hamas carried a great deal of responsibility for the current confrontation, which has claimed 600 lives among of Palestinians and 29 among the Israeli.

“Hamas decided to use the battlefield inside the narrow streets of Gaza, and they know who pays the price. I hope the people of Gaza, at the end of this, will send them a bill,” he said.

While Hamas refused to recognize either the government of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas or the state of Israel, Sneh said his own government was driven by an ideology that would not recognize Palestine’s right to exist.

“The problem is, for a majority in the government coalition, the most important issue is to expand the settlements and keep our control over the West Bank forever. This is their ideology, they believe in it. All other considerations are secondary according to their conviction,” the former minister said.

“As long as this minority is in total control of the government, the chances the government will choose to change the status quo are very slim,” he said.

The next elections in 2017 are a long time away, unless the Knesset decides to hold an early vote. Sneh believes that the majority of Israelis would support ending the occupation of the West Bank and adopting a two state solution, a subject that that has been bypassed since the 1996 election.

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