The U.S. State Department has rejected recent comments made by two Israeli ministers, calling them “irresponsible” and “inflammatory” for advocating for the resettlement of Palestinians outside of Gaza.
“The United States rejects recent statements from Israeli Ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir advocating for the resettlement of Palestinians outside of Gaza,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.
“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. They should stop immediately,” he added.
Smotrich, Israel’s finance minister, and Gvir, the nation’s national security minister, came under fire earlier this week after they each suggested the war in Gaza could result in the resettlement of the Palestinian people.
Smotrich told reporters Monday that the solution to the war was “to encourage the voluntary migration of Gaza’s residents to countries that will agree to take in the refugees,” The Times of Israel reported.
Ben Gvir echoed similar sentiments, telling reporters Monday that the war offers an “opportunity to concentrate on encouraging the migration of the residents of Gaza,” according to the outlet.
“We 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,” Ben Gvir said.
“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,” Miller said in his statement. “That is the future we seek, in the interests of Israelis and Palestinians, the surrounding region, and the world.”
Since the onset of the war last year, about 85 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have already been displaced, according to The Associated Press. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry has reported that more than 20,000 people in the territory have died since the war began.
Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks on Israel left about 1,200 people dead, while about 240 others were captured as hostages by the militants. Since then, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to destroy Hamas, warning earlier this week that there would be “many more months” of fighting.
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