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US urges Netanyahu to condemn Smotrich statements about Huwara

One of Israel's most powerful politicians called for the Palestinian village of Huwara to be 'wiped off this earth' at an event held by Israeli newspaper the Marker. The comments by Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich rub salt into the wounds of Huwara residents who suffered a brutal attack by settlers on 26 February 2023, when homes, cars and businesses were burnt to the ground and an aid worker was killed.

March 2, 2023 at 11:24 am

The US has called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior officials in the occupation state to condemn publicly the statements made by far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich to “wipe out” the Palestinian village of Huwara.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Wednesday that the comments made by the minister were “irresponsible. They were repugnant. They were disgusting.” He pointed out that the statements of the far-right extremist amounted to incitement to violence.

Smotrich heads the Religious Zionism party, which is a member of the ruling coalition government led by Netanyahu. He said earlier on Wednesday that it is Israel’s duty to “wipe out” the town of Huwara, located in the occupied West Bank.

The Secretary-General of the PLO’s Executive Committee, Hussein Al-Sheikh, welcomed the statement by the US State Department. He said that Smotrich’s comment was made by a “racist, terrorist minister” in the occupation government. “This requires international human rights organisations to prosecute this terrorist for calling for massacres against Palestinians.”

READ: Hamas condemns ‘incitement’ by far-right Israeli minister

According to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, the comments made by Smotrich threaten a dangerous escalation against the people of occupied Palestine.” He added that the “terrorist” minister’s words are reason enough to prosecute him internationally, as they constitute official incitement to commit more massacres against the Palestinian people in Huwara and other West Bank towns and villages.

Shtayyeh called on the UN, EU and international organisations to condemn Smotrich’s comments and activate the international resolutions supporting boycotts and sanctions against Israel and holding it accountable for its crimes.

The prime minister also welcomed the US condemnation, describing it as important. “Let it be linked to moves to end Israeli crimes and the opening-up of a political horizon to end the occupation of our land and establish a Palestinian state in accordance with international resolutions.”