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Senior Israel ministers call for ‘voluntary emigration’ of Palestinians, building of Jewish settlements in Gaza

January 2, 2024 at 9:01 pm

Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir in Beersheba on April 25, 2023 [GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images]

Two senior Israeli ministers in the country’s ruling far-right coalition cabinet have called for the “voluntary emigration” of Palestinians from Gaza and the expansion of settlements, as the post-war fate of millions in the Strip continues to be debated upon.

During their parties’ faction meetings in the Israeli Knesset yesterday, National Security Minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, and Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, offered the emigration of Palestinian civilians from the Gaza Strip as a potential solution to conflict between the Occupation and the Palestinian resistance factions.

Speaking to reporters and members of his far-right Otzma Yehudit party, Ben Gvir stated that the ongoing war in Gaza presents an “opportunity to concentrate on encouraging the migration of the residents of Gaza”. He called that potential policy “a correct, just, moral and humane solution”.

Ben Gvir also put forward the construction of illegal Jewish settlements in the Strip, insisting that Israeli forces “cannot withdraw from any territory we are in in the Gaza Strip. Not only do I not rule out Jewish settlement there, I believe it is also an important thing”.

READ: Gazans say they fear a fate worse than bombs: permanent exile

Smotrich echoed those sentiments, telling members of his Religious Zionism party that the “correct solution” to the war and the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “to encourage the voluntary migration of Gaza’s residents to countries that will agree to take in the refugees”. He further predicted that “Israel will permanently control the territory of the Gaza Strip”, a policy that would apparently include the re-establishment of settlements there.

The Finance Minister asserted that Tel Aviv cannot allow the besieged Strip to remain a “hothouse of 2 million people who want destroy the State of Israel”, stating that “as long as I am the Finance Minister, not one shekel will go to the Nazi terrorists in Gaza”.

The proposed colonial policies of the two senior ministers – both of whom are coalition partners of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – come as Israeli policymakers continue to discuss and formulate a plan for Gaza’s post-war future, which they see as being free of Hamas.

While reports have emerged of offers for Arab forces and governing authorities to administer Gaza, such as the Palestinian Authority or a combined force of Arab states, the predominant view on the part of Israel’s far-right government has been for Israel itself to re-occupy the Strip, exile its Palestinian population and resettle it with Israelis and Jewish settlers.