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Shlomo Gazit Strongly Supports Israeli Presence on West Bank

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Major General Shlomo Gazit says he left his post as head of Israeli Military Intelligence to come to Harvard because "I felt tired and felt in urgent need for recharging my batteries."

At Harvard's Center for International Affairs where he is a visiting fellow, Gazit finds his life less hectic, but he has not left the problems of his country behind him.

"We cannot evacuate the West Bank before we are totally convinced we have reached a so-called everlasting peace," he said forcefully.

Gazit headed all occupied territories for seven years before taking his post as the head of all military intelligence in 1974. Although the general disagrees with the confiscation of private property and other aspects of Israeli occupation, he firmly supports Israeli settlement in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

"I am all out for a Jewish presence in the West Bank," Gazit said. "There are 600,000 free Palestinian citizens in Israel. Why can't there be a Jewish presence in the West Bank?"

Gazit stressed the religious and historical importance of the region for the Israelis. "The West Bank is much more the historical Israel than the major parts of Israel today," he said.

Gazit believes that as long as the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) continues to commit itself to the destructio of Israel and the right to return to their pre 1948 lands, Israel cannot negotiate with them.

Gazit added that Israel would not object to a dialogue with the PLO if it renounced its charter and gave up its terrorist tactics.

Gazit said he is very pleased with the recent peace negotiations between Israel and Egypt. "We are in the process of implementing peace with our biggest neighbor, and I think it is a great success," Gazit said.

Gazit refused to comment on America's recent encouragement of Israel to accept the possibility of a Palestinian homeland in the near future. He says he does approve, however, of many of President Carter's Middle-East peace initiatives.

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