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US condemns comments by Smotrich calling for ‘erasure’ of Huwara

State Department says remarks are ‘incitement to violence’

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich speaks at a news conference after announcing that he will sign an order to seize Palestinian Authority funds and transfer them to the families of victims of Palestinian attacks, at Israel's Finance Ministry in Jerusalem, Jan. 8, 2023. (Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price lashed out against Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich on Wednesday, calling his remarks “irresponsible, repugnant and disgusting.”

Smotrich made his comments at a conference on Wednesday, where he was asked why he had ‘liked’ a tweet by Samaria Regional Council Deputy Head David Ben-Zion calling for Palestinian village Huwara to be “erased”.

The U.S. administration was quick to condemn the remarks and called on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak out.

“Just as we condemn Palestinian incitement to violence, we condemn these provocative remarks that also amount to incitement to violence. We call on Prime Minister Netanyahu and other senior officials to publicly and clearly reject and disavow these comments,” Price said.

Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders condemned the violent attack, with Israel Defense Forces Major General Yehuda Fuchs calling it a pogrom.

In response to the settler attack, Price had said on Monday, “We expect the Israeli government to ensure full accountability and legal prosecution of those responsible for the attacks.”

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog also spoke out against the remarks.

"Notwithstanding the fact that Israel has been subjected to a recent wave of horrific terror attacks against its civilians, it is absolutely not Israeli policy and it’s against our values to respond by wiping out civilian villages," he said.

The non-profit liberal advocacy organization, J Street, also condemned the statement by Smotrich, and called on the U.S. Biden administration not to meet with him.

“The Biden administration should not only condemn Smotrich’s threats and incitement, but also ensure that no US government officials will legitimize his extremism by meeting with him, either in the United States or elsewhere.”

Smotrich later tried to provide context to his statements, saying that Huwara is “a hostile village that has become a terrorist outpost,” and a front of terror activity.

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

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