All Israel

Finance Minister Smotrich: Encourage voluntary emigration of Gazans from the Strip, bring back Jewish settlements

Israeli Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich and Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant (not seen) hold a joint press conference in Jerusalem, December 26, 2023. (Photo: Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, leader of the Religious Zionism party, suggested on Saturday that Israel should “encourage voluntary emigration” from the Gaza Strip and consider resettling Gaza with Israeli civilians for security purposes.

“We will be in security control, and we will need there to be civil [control],” Smotrich said.

“I’m for completely changing the reality in Gaza, having a conversation about settlements in the Gaza Strip… We’ll need to rule there for a long time… If we want to be there militarily, we need to be there in a civilian fashion.”

Smotrich said that Gaza could not continue existing as a “hothouse of 2 million people who want to destroy the State of Israel.”

“We want to encourage willful emigration, and we need to find countries willing to take them in,” he said, adding that he believes Gazans want to leave.

“We need to encourage immigration from there. If there were 100,000-200,000 Arabs in the Strip and not two million, the whole conversation about the day after [the war] would be completely different. They want to leave. They have been living in a ghetto for 75 years and are in need,” Smotrich claimed.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in Israel who doesn’t want to see Jewish settlements everywhere,” he said.

A recent poll of 1,800 Israelis showed that about 56% of Israelis are against the idea of re-establishing settlements in the Gaza Strip, which Israel evacuated in 2005. Only 33% of respondents responded in favor of annexation and settlements, while 11% said they were not sure.

The poll also found that approximately 23% of Israelis support a coalition of moderate Arab states being in charge of Gaza temporarily after the war. About 22% said were in favor of Israeli military rule, while some 18% would like to see an international force take charge of the territory.

While Israel’s mainstream political leaders have not brought up the idea of returning settlements to Gaza, Smotrich is not alone in believing that Gaza needs to be fully occupied by Israel. Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu said earlier in December that Israel should “fully occupy the Gaza Strip” once the war has concluded.

“Anyone who is today selling the idea that [the Palestinians] can go back to running things, doesn’t remember what happened on [October 7],” Eliyahu told KAN public radio.

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not raised the issue of resettling Gaza, he has made it clear that Gaza should not be ruled by the Fatah party, led by Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank.

“I will not allow for Hamastan to be switched with Fatahstan; that we exchange Khan Younis for Jenin,” said Netanyahu earlier in December.

Smotrich also said that no funds should be transferred from the PA to officials in Gaza.

“Not even a shekel will be transferred to Gaza,” he said. “Gazans are not innocent. I was against fuel [entering] and I still am. Fuel is power for terrorism and the tunnels. It is happening and it is bad – but I alone am not in charge of this government.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

All Israel
Receive latest news & updates
    A message from All Israel News
    Help us educate Christians on a daily basis about what is happening in Israel & the Middle East and why it matters.
    For as little as $5, you can support ALL ISRAEL NEWS, a non-profit media organization that is supported by readers like you.
    Donate to ALL ISRAEL NEWS
    Popular Articles
    Latest Stories