Israeli’s Smotrich supports “voluntary migration” of Palestinians from Gaza, cites no chance to exist there anymore

15 Nov 2023 04:52pm
Smoke rises during an Israeli military bombardment of the northern Gaza Strip on November 15, 2023 - AFP
Smoke rises during an Israeli military bombardment of the northern Gaza Strip on November 15, 2023 - AFP

SHAH ALAM - Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, says the “voluntary migration” of Palestinians in Gaza is the “right humanitarian solution” for the blockaded territory as well as for the region. This stance has been labelled by Palestinian officials “ethnic cleansing”.

Smotrich said this after Israeli parliamentary members Danny Danon, who is also former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, and Ram Ben-Barak, former deputy director of the intelligence agency Mossad, published a commentary in The Wall Street Journal on Monday suggesting moving some of Gaza’s population to nations that will accept them.

“I welcome the initiative of members of Knesset Ram Ben-Barak and Danny Danon on the voluntary immigration of Gaza Arabs to the countries of the world. This is the right humanitarian solution for the residents of Gaza and the entire region,” Smotrich wrote in a Facebook post yesterday.

He said the cell with a small area like the Gaza Strip without natural resources and independent sources of livelihood has no chance to exist independently, economically and politically in such a high density for a long time.

“The reception of refugees by the countries of the world that really want their best interests, with the support and generous financial assistance of the international community and within the state of Israel, is the only solution that will bring to an end the suffering and pain of Jews and Arabs alike.” “The state of Israel will no longer be able to put up with the existence of an independent entity in Gaza,” he added.

The Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Ministry described Smotrich’s statement as “part of Israel’s colonial, racist plan” for Palestinians. It said Israel was engaging in a “genocide” supported by Smotrich, adding that the only solution was for international intervention to end Israel’s occupation.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the beginning of Israeli’s offensive on Gaza last month had stated that all Gazans must evict their homes. He went on to say ethnic cleansing is a war crime and it was done by bombarding an unprotected civilian population, which according to to him was not what they were doing as they were targeting Hamas members.

Palestinian National Initiative general-secretary Mustafa Barghouti quoted Netanyahu in his post on X, adding that Smotrich has “revealed the real policy and intentions of the Israeli government”.

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According to reports, Netanyahu has been lobbying European leaders to help him persuade the Egyptian president to take in refugees from Gaza. Israel’s Ministry of Intelligence also has outlined a proposal Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to “evacuate” all Palestinians from Gaza to Egypt.

On Tuesday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said his country rejected any attempt to justify or encourage the displacement of Palestinians outside the Gaza Strip and called Smotrich’s comments “an expression of the Israeli government’s policy that violates international laws”.

Back in March, Smotrich suffered major backlashafter he said the Palestinian people were “an invention” of the past century with Palestinian officials blasted his comments as proof of the “racist” outlook of Israel’s far-right government.

Based on the article written by Danon and Ben-Barak, it claimed Europe had a long history of assisting refugees fleeing conflicts, and based on that example, “countries around the world should offer a haven for Gaza residents who seek relocation. Countries can accomplish this by creating well-structured and internationally coordinated relocation programs”. Many Palestinians were expelled from their homeland in 1948 during the creation of the state of Israel – an event referred to as the Nakba, or “catastrophe”. Most people in Gaza today are the children or grandchildren of those displaced during the Nakba. They are now at risk of being permanently uprooted again, which is a war crime under international law.

Meanwhile, senior representative of Hamas in Lebanon Osama Hamdan had responded to these statements saying: “We are here to stay.” Osama went on to say that Netanyahu does not care if Israeli captives were being killed in air strikes and that this war was a personal mission to distract from his legal woes.

“It’s still early days for the battle and the next phase is bigger and more intense,” he added.

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