Two extremist ministers in the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated calls on Monday for the “resettlement” of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and for the establishment of Israeli settlements in the enclave.
Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel’s minister of national security and leader of the Jewish Power party, said the onslaught in Gaza presents an “opportunity to concentrate on encouraging the migration of the residents of Gaza.”
“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 told reporters and members of his party, according to The Times of Israel.
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich told members of his Religious Zionism party that the “correct solution” to the conflict is “to encourage the voluntary migration of Gaza’s residents to countries that will agree to take in the refugees.” He added that Israel will “permanently control the territory of the Gaza Strip” and establish settlements.
Smotrich made similar comments a day earlier, saying the population of Palestinians in Gaza must be reduced. “If there are 100,000 or 200,000 Arabs in Gaza and not 2 million Arabs, the entire discussion on the day after will be totally different,” he told Israel’s Army Radio.
Ahmad Tibi, an Arab member of the Israeli Knesset, condemned the rhetoric from Smotrich and Ben Gvir, accusing them of inciting genocide. “A day will come and these two senior ministers in the Israeli government will stand before an international tribunal for war crimes,” Tibi said.
While once on the fringes of Israeli politics, Smotrich and Ben Gvir now have significant power, and their ideas are becoming more popular. Many Israeli officials and Knesset members, including members of Netanyahu’s Likud party and the centrist Yesh Atid party, have called for other countries to take in Palestinian refugees.
Netanyahu said last week that he was looking for other countries to “absorb” Palestinians from Gaza to facilitate the ethnic cleansing of Gaza. He has also made clear that his vision for a post-war Gaza is open-ended Israeli military control.