Israel has no interest to occupy Gaza, says UN envoy

Washington: Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan said his country “has no interest” in occupying Gaza but will do “whatever is needed” to eliminate the Palestinian Hamas militant group which controls the densely-populated coastal enclave.

His remarks on Sunday during a CNN interview came just hours after US President Joe Biden warned Israel against occupying the enclave as the Jewish nation signaled that it is preparing for a ground invasion amid the ongoing war with the Hamas.

In response, Erdan said: “We have no interest to occupy Gaza or to stay in Gaza, but since we are fighting for our survival and the only way, as the President (Biden) himself defined is to obliterate Hamas, so we will have to do whatever is needed to obliterate their capabilities.”

When asked who should rule the Gaza Strip if Israel does remove Hamas, Erdan said his country was “not thinking about what will happen a day after the war”.

In a CBS News interview which aired on Sunday, the President said “it would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza again”, but also noted that it was a “necessary requirement” to remove the “extremists”.

When asked if Hamas should be “eliminated entirely”, Biden replied: “Yes I do.”

He went on to say that “there needs to be a Palestinian authority, there needs to be a path to a Palestinian state”.

Also speaking to CNN on Sunday, Michael Herzog, the Israeli Ambassador to the US, echoed Erdan’s remarks and said that Israel does not intend to occupy Gaza after and when the conflict ends.

“We have no desire to occupy or reoccupy Gaza. We have no desire to rule over the lives of more than 2 million Palestinians,” Herzog said.

IANS

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