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US slams Israel ministers' call for 'resettlement' of Palestinians outside Gaza

January 3, 2024 at 8:44 am

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir (L) and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (R) in Jerusalem. [ABIR SULTAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

The US State Department yesterday slammed recent statements from far-right Israeli Ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir that advocated for the “voluntary emigration” of Palestinians outside of Gaza, calling the rhetoric “inflammatory and irresponsible”, Reuters reported.

The comments from the ministers appeared to underscore fears in much of the Arab world that Israel wants to forcibly displace and ethnically cleanse the occupied Palestinian territories as Zionist gangs did in historic Palestine in 1948.

Finance Minister Smotrich, one of the senior figures in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition, called on Sunday for Palestinians to leave Gaza. National Security Minister Ben-Gvir also said the war in Gaza presented an “opportunity to concentrate on encouraging the migration of the residents of Gaza.”

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Responding to the statement, the US State Department said: “This rhetoric is inflammatory and irresponsible. We have been told repeatedly and consistently by the government of Israel, including by the Prime Minister, that such statements do not reflect the policy of the Israeli government.”

It stressed that such statements should “stop immediately.”

“We have been clear, consistent, and unequivocal that Gaza is Palestinian land and will remain Palestinian land, with Hamas no longer in control of its future and with no terror groups able to threaten Israel.” Both Smotrich and Ben-Gvir have.

Smotrich’s hard-right Religious Zionism Party draws support from Israel’s settler community and helped Netanyahu secure the majority he needed to become prime minister for the sixth time a year ago.

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