Conflicts & War

Israel minister Ben Gvir calls for ‘voluntary emigration’ of Gazans and return of settlers

Jerusalem, Jan. 1 (EFE) – Itamar Ben Gvir, a right-wing extremist and national security minister in the Israeli government, on Monday called for promoting the emigration of the Palestinian population of Gaza so that Jewish settlers who left the strip in 2005 can return.

Speaking at a meeting of the far-right Jewish Power party on Monday, Ben Gvir told reporters that the war provides an “opportunity to concentrate on encouraging the migration of the residents of Gaza,” and that such a policy is “a correct, just, moral and humane solution”

At the same time, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich told members of his Religious Zionism party that Israel cannot allow Gaza to remain a “hothouse of 2 million people who want destroy the State of Israel,” and that the “correct solution” is to “encourage the voluntary migration of the residents of Gaza to countries that will agree to take in the refugees.”

While Israeli authorities have so far said that the internal displacement of 1.9 million Gazans (85% of Gaza’s population) is a temporary situation, Israeli far-right groups insist on the need for Palestinians to leave the Strip in order to recolonize the territory.

In recent days, Smotrich and Ben Gvir, settlers themselves and two of the Netanyahu government’s top far-right ministers, echoed this call.

On Sunday, Smotrich made a similar suggestion, speaking to Israel Army Radio: “If there are 100,000 or 200,000 Arabs in Gaza and not two million Arabs, the entire discussion on the day after will be totally different.”

In response, Hamas said Smotrich’s call was “a war crime accompanied by criminal aggression.”

Ben-Gvir and Smotrich are members of Israel’s security cabinet, but not of the war cabinet, whose main members are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and opposition leader Benny Gantz.

On Thursday night, Netanyahu had to cancel a meeting of the war cabinet to discuss the plan for the “day after” the war, after Ben-Gvir and Smotrich objected to being excluded from the discussion.

EFE jma/ics

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