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Israel ministers back calls to build settlements in Gaza

Israel ministers back calls to expel Palestinians and build Jewish settlements in Gaza
3 min read
29 January, 2024
The Israeli far-right conference urges the government to set up new Jewish settlements in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
Smotrich and Ben Gvir attended the far-right settler conference [Getty]

Key figures in the Israeli government have joined a controversial far-right conference calling for expelling Palestinians from Gaza and rebuilding or expanding illegal Jewish settlements in the enclave and occupied West Bank.

The conference, organised by the extremist Nahala organisation - classified as illegal by international and humanitarian groups - saw calls for the re-establishment of new Jewish settlements in Gaza and expansions across the occupied Palestinian Territory.

Israel's Channel 12 reported that 12 ministers - around a third of the cabinet - attended the conference, including National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, reiterating calls for Palestinians to be removed from Gaza.

Ben Gvir has previously said that Israel’s war on Gaza presented 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," he said.

Other politicians - such Smotrich - have echoed Ben Gvir's remarks during his faction's meeting on 1 January, declaring the "correct solution" in Gaza is "to encourage the voluntary migration of Gaza’s residents to countries that will agree to take in the refugees".

Several videos from the event showed crowds chanting support for the possible rebuilding of settlements in Gaza.

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Another video showed far-right Orthodox Zionist settler activist Daniella Weiss telling a reporter that depriving Palestinians of food would drive them out of Gaza and force other nations to accept them.

This would pave the way for Israel to reestablish settlements in Gaza.

The controversial gathering came amid international pressure on Israel to confirm it would respect Palestinian statehood after its war on Gaza ends.

It also comes just days after a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) urged Israel to prevent genocide in Gaza.

The Palestinian foreign ministry slammed the event saying the inflammatory calls would only lead to further violence.

"The colonial meeting in Jerusalem poses a blatant challenge to the International Court of Justice decision, accompanied by public incitement to forcibly displace Palestinians," the statement said.

"The Israeli government bears full responsibility for such inflammatory calls, which Jewish extremists consider as directives to wreak havoc against the Palestinian people."

It also slammed slogans used in the conference such as "peace comes only through transfer" and called on the international community "to exert pressure on [Benjamin] Netanyahu to halt these provocative practices and impose deterrent sanctions on settlers, their leaders, and those politically supporting them". 

The UN has declared the building of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territory illegal and has continually urged Israel to cease it 

Israel withdrew its military and settlers from Gaza in 2005 after a 38-year-long occupation although it maintained a punishing siege on the territory.