US slams 'irresponsible' comments of far-right Israeli ministers about emigration of Gaza residents

AP , Ahram Online , Wednesday 3 Jan 2024

The Biden administration has spoken out against the comments of two far-right Israeli ministers who recently called for Palestinians to be resettled outside of Gaza.

A Palestinian man walks by the remains of destroyed buildings following the Israeli bombardment on the main road of Gaza City. Photo: AP


In a statement released late on Tuesday, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller called Israeli Ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir’s comments “inflammatory and irresponsible.”

Ben Gvir rejected American criticisms on the social network X saying that Israel is "not another star on the American flag".

"The United States is our good friend, but above all, we will do what is good for the State of Israel: encouraging the emigration of hundreds of thousands of people from Gaza will allow residents (Israelis) to return home (on the Gaza border) and live safely while protecting our soldiers," he added. 

On Sunday, Smotrich, Israel’s far-right finance minister, said Israel should “encourage migration” from Gaza and re-establish Jewish settlements in the territory, where it withdrew settlers and soldiers in 2005.

Ben Gvir has made similar comments about resettling Palestinians.

Miller said Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have “repeatedly” told the US leaders that “such statements do not reflect the policy of the Israeli government.”

“Gaza is Palestinian land and will remain Palestinian land, with Hamas no longer in control of its future and with no groups able to threaten Israel,” Miller said.

The expulsion of a population from its territory is prohibited by the Geneva Conventions, which form the core of international humanitarian law, and the statutes of the International Criminal Court (ICC) designate "deportation or forced transfer of population" as a crime against humanity.

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