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76% of Israelis support voluntary emigration of Gaza civilians 'the day after' war

Poll finds huge support for controversial idea, Finance Minister Smotrich agrees

Palestinians leave to Egypt via the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip, on November 2, 2023. (Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Encouraging the voluntary emigration of the Gazans at the end of the current war between Israel and Hamas has gained increasing momentum in public discussion among Israelis in recent weeks, with a recent poll revealing that a large majority of Israelis (76%) support it.

A new poll published on Thursday by the Sovereignty Movement found that, despite international criticism of the idea and its public rejection by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a huge majority of Israelis support voluntary emigration of Gaza civilians who want to live in another country.

The poll results were presented at a conference called “People, Land, Sovereignty – Lessons of Gaza, the end of the two-state idea,” which was held in Jerusalem and gathered politicians, academics and activists for speeches and discussions.

On Wednesday morning, Netanyahu explicitly rejected the idea of Gazan civilians emigrating to other countries, just one day before the International Court of Justice began hearings about South Africa's accusation of Israel committing genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza.

“Israel has no intention of permanently occupying Gaza or displacing its civilian population. Israel is fighting Hamas terrorists… in full compliance with international law,” Netanyahu said.

However, according to the poll, some 76% of respondents said they supported “encouraging voluntary emigration of Gaza residents” according to the survey conducted by Direct Polls. About 8% said they had no position on the issue, while 16% rejected it altogether.

The poll also asked the respondents their opinion about the proposal to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank, “near the cities of Israel’s center,” following the events of Oct. 7 and the ongoing war.

Of those surveyed, 74% rejected the proposal, while 20% supported it and 6% couldn’t decide.

The poll results were presented by Channel 12 news journalist Amit Segal at the beginning of an interview he conducted on stage with Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

“Aren’t you afraid to be seen as a leftist in the coming elections,” Segal jokingly asked Smotrich in light of the results which emphasized the rightward shift in public opinion since the murderous Hamas invasion on Oct. 7.

The chairman of the Religious Zionism Party noted that in his view, those who are forcing a discussion about the “day after the war” are doing so to prevent a complete Israeli victory in the war.

“It’s hard to shake the feeling that this means to lose the focus a little bit,” Smotrich said, adding that Israel should also beware of the American ‘bear hug’ in this context.

After being pressed by Segal about what he believes should happen with Gaza, Smotrich explained that the Gazan population hated Israel and wouldn’t change their opinions in the foreseeable future, even with organized re-education programs that some Israeli politicians have suggested.

“Therefore we need to have the control there, and to have military control we need to be present there in a civilian way,” Smotrich said, adding: “I propose full Israeli control over the Gaza Strip… for this, we need civilian settlements.”

He also asserted that the large civilian population in Gaza, estimated to be about 2.2 million, is one of Hamas’ biggest assets and that encouraging voluntary emigration would contribute to Israel's final victory over the terror group.

He added: “We won’t throw out anybody by force, no Israeli citizen could imagine this.”

Regarding the Arab population of the West Bank, Smotrich said whoever would choose a full partnership with Israel according to the Druze model could even, after several years, be offered a right to vote.

“[But] whoever thinks that he can live here, and enjoy all the prosperity and progress that we are bringing to this land… and to undermine our existence and hurt and fight, that doesn’t go together.”

The conference was organized by the Sovereignty Movement, which proposes to apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria. The organization rejects the Oslo Accords and the two-state solution.

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

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