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U.S. condemns 'inflammatory,' 'irresponsible' comments by far-right Israeli ministers

The United States on Tuesday condemned recent comments by Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, of the far-right Religious Zionist Party, who called for the voluntary movement of Palestinians from Gaza. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI
1 of 2 | The United States on Tuesday condemned recent comments by Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, of the far-right Religious Zionist Party, who called for the voluntary movement of Palestinians from Gaza. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 2 (UPI) -- The United States on Tuesday condemned comments by two far-right Israeli ministers calling for the resettlement of Palestinians outside of Gaza, describing their rhetoric as "inflammatory and irresponsible."

"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," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

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"They should stop immediately."

The criticism, one of the strongest coming from Washington against Israel since its war with Hamas began on Oct. 7, is in response to comments made in recent days by Bezalel Smotrich, Israel's finance minister, and Itamar Ben Gvir, the Middle Eastern country's minister of national security.

The ministers are members of far-right nationalist parties that helped Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secure his coalition government in December of 2022.

On Monday, they called for the "voluntary emigration" of Palestinians from the Palestinian enclave of Gaza. Much of it has been razed since October under Israel's incessant airstrikes.

Ben Gvir told reporters and members of his Otzma Yehudit party on Monday that the war "presents an opportunity to concentrate on the migration of the residents of Gaza," a plan he said was "a correct, just, moral and humane solution," The Times of Israel reported.

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Smotrich also said the encouragement of voluntary migration from Gaza to other countries as refugees was the "correction solution."

"We have been clear, consistent and unequivocal that Gaza is Palestinian land and will remain Palestinian land, with Hamas no longer in control of its future and with no terror groups able to threaten Israel," Miller said.

"That is the future we seek, in the interests of Israelis and Palestinians, the surrounding region, and the world."

Though a vehement supporter of Israel in its war against Hamas, the United States has been a strong proponent for a two-state solution and has recently been increasing its public criticism of Israel over how it is conducting the war, which has seen a growing death toll that has reached 22,000 Palestinians.

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Palestinians inspect a destroyed house and vehicle after Israeli airstrikes on residential houses in the Al-Shaboura refugee camp in Rafah, the southern Gaza Strip, on December 20, 2023. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo

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