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US State Department slams comments by ministers Ben Gvir and Smotrich - ‘inflammatory and irresponsible’

US affirms commitment to Hamas-free Palestinian Gaza

Head of the Jewish Power party and Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir leads a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, Dec. 18, 2023. (Photo: Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The U.S. State Department slammed recent statements by Israeli government coalition ministers Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich on Tuesday. 

State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller said the United States rejects the “inflammatory and irresponsible” statements of the two Israeli leaders, who had called for resettlement of Gazans outside of the Gaza Strip. 

“The United States rejects the inflammatory and irresponsible statements from Israeli Ministers Smotrich and Ben Gvir. There should be no mass displacement of Palestinians from Gaza,” Miller said in the official statement. He also posted his rebuke to his official X (formerly Twitter) account. 

“We have been told repeatedly and consistently by the Government of Israel, including by the Prime Minister, that such statements do not reflect the policy of the Israeli government. They should stop immediately,” Miller added.

Miller said the U.S. Biden administration has “been clear, consistent and unequivocal that Gaza is Palestinian land and will remain Palestinian land.” 

The official statement said the U.S. shares Israel's belief that 'the day after' the war in Gaza should be “with Hamas no longer in control of its future and with no terror groups able to threaten Israel.” 

Miller said this goal is “in the interests of Israelis and Palestinians, the surrounding region and the world.” 

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir responded to the U.S. statement on social media: "We highly appreciate the United States of America, but with all due respect, we are not just a star on the American flag. The United States is our good friend, but above all, we will do what is good for the State of Israel: the emigration of hundreds of thousands from Gaza will allow the residents of the surrounding areas to return home and live in security and will protect the IDF soldiers.” 

The official U.S. statement came in response to remarks that were made by Ben Gvir on Monday.

“We are in a war for existence, our surrounding enemies are looking at us, and talk of anything beyond the next stage can harm us,” Ben Gvir stated. The pressure on Hamas must be increased,” he added, and called for the emigration of Gaza residents, which he said was “true, correct, and moral.” 

Ben Gvir also said the time is right “to focus on a project encouraging the emigration of Gaza residents to countries around the world.” 

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich echoed Ben Gvir’s sentiments in a party meeting, saying: “The right solution is to encourage voluntary emigration of Gaza residents to countries willing to absorb the refugees, as millions of refugees from Syria and other war-torn areas have been absorbed.”

Smotrich noted that Israel should “maintain a constant presence in the territory of the Gaza Strip to ensure security.” 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu coalition government has been reluctant to discuss plans for the future of Gaza after the war against Hamas apart from saying that neither the Palestinian Authority nor Hamas will rule the coastal enclave.

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

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