WASHINGTON (AFP) — Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told ABC television Wednesday that Israel's short-term goal in Gaza is not overthrowing Hamas.
"The only way that the Palestinians can create a state is also by changing the situation in Gaza ... So the changes in Gaza and the changes of regime are needed also to create this vision of two states ... or to translate it into reality," she said.
Overthrowing Hamas, she added, "is not the goal of the current operation, but at the end of the day, Gaza controlled by Hamas is a problem to Israel, a problem to the Palestinians and a problem to the entire region."
Livni justified Israel's rejection of a truce in the fighting in Gaza because the humanitarian situation is not dire, and because "knowing Hamas ... they are going to abuse any kind of ceasefire in order to put ... themselves in a better position for the next attack."
Asked about the likelihood of a ground assault on Gaza by Israeli forces, the foreign minister said: "I don't know yet. Everything is prepared. We started with the air force ... and we are making our decisions on a daily basis."
"And now it depends on the ability of Hamas and the willingness of Hamas to stop and to give the Palestinians also hope for a better life," she added.
The actions in Gaza have so far lasted five days, killed nearly 400 Palestinians and left more than 1,900 wounded, according to Gaza emergency services.
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