After US & EU: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman slam Israeli minister call for expulsion of Gaza population

Ahram Online , Thursday 4 Jan 2024

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman strongly condemned the remarks made by extremist Israeli Ministers of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir and Finance Bezalel Smotrich advocating for the displacement of Gaza residents, the re-occupation of the strip, and the construction of Israeli settlements.

Palestinians salvage what they can from their belongings following Israeli airstrikes on Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024. AP


The Saudi Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Thursday expressing the Kingdom's "strong condemnation and unequivocal rejection of the extremist statements made by ministers in the Israeli occupation government, calling for the displacement of Gaza residents and the re-occupation of the sector to build settlements."

The statement emphasized the "importance of international community collaboration to activate international accountability mechanisms against the Israeli occupation government, through its statements and actions, in violation of international legitimacy and humanitarian law."

Qatar, a prominent mediator in the prisoner exchange process between Hamas and Israel, also strongly denounced the Israeli ministers' statements.

Qatar considered these statements as "an extension of the occupation's approach in violating the rights of the Palestinian people and disregarding international laws and agreements, with poisonous efforts to obstruct peace prospects, particularly the two-state solution."

The Qatari Foreign Ministry affirmed that "the collective punishment policy and forced displacement practiced by the occupation authorities against the people of Gaza will not change the fact that Gaza is Palestinian land and will remain so."

The Omani Ministry, in a statement, affirmed its firm position in considering the Gaza Strip an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories according to the UN resolutions, which binds Israel to withdraw from all the lands it occupied and return to the 1967 borders to ensure the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

The Israeli ministers' remarks also drew condemnation from Josep Borrell, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who labeled the Israeli statements as"inflammatory and irresponsible."

"Forced displacements are strictly prohibited as a grave violation of IHL (international humanitarian law) & words matter," he said on social media.

The United States already slamed comments by the two extremist Israeli ministers.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Washington "rejects recent statements from Israeli ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir advocating for the resettlement of Palestinians outside of Gaza."

"This rhetoric is inflammatory and irresponsible," added Miller, who reiterated the "clear, consistent, and unequivocal" US position that "Gaza is Palestinian land and will remain Palestinian land."

Despite such strong criticism, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that a "scenario of surrender and deportation" of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is being considered, as reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, citing Israeli news channel 12.

In recordings from Netanyahu's meeting with the families of the Israeli hostages that took place yesterday (Tuesday), the prime minister was heard saying, "we are not rejecting that possibility. There are claims to be made for and against it."

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