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Top Israeli Official Calls for Israeli Settlement of Gaza in Chilling Remarks

Ben-Gvir called for the “voluntary departure” of Palestinians from Gaza — a euphemism for ethnic cleansing.

Israel's far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir greets supporters as he arrives to join a protest calling for the continuation of the war efforts, near the prime minister's office in Jerusalem on May 5, 2024.

Israel’s national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said in chilling remarks on Tuesday that Israel’s ultimate goal with regard to Gaza must be to push Palestinians out of the region so that Israelis can settle the Gaza Strip.

In a speech at a rally for the settlement of Gaza in southern Israel, Ben-Gvir openly called for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Gaza.

“So that the problem [of Gaza] does not return, two things must be done: return to the Gaza Strip and encourage the voluntary departure of the residents of Gaza. This is moral, rational and humanitarian,” he said, according to a translation reported by Al Jazeera that was roughly corroborated by other outlets.

“Voluntary departure” is a euphemism for ethnic cleansing, as experts and advocates for Palestinian rights have noted — a policy that Israel has been pursuing and executing for decades now. It’s also notable that Palestinians currently have no way to “depart” Gaza other than death as Israel is blocking all exits from the country, even for foreign nationals, and nearby countries have been refusing to take in Palestinian refugees.

Ben-Gvir, one of the most powerful officials in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far right coalition, then went on to call for a further blockade of humanitarian aid, even as Israel has already implemented a near-total blockade of aid into Gaza.

​​“I am ashamed that I am the only one in the cabinet who voted against the transfer of shipments to Gaza through [the Karem Abu Salem crossing]. Do you want humanitarianism? Return the abductees,” he said, perhaps strategically ignoring the fact that he has personally advocated against many hostage agreements in exchange for ceasefire over the past months. This includes an Israeli security cabinet vote last week, as reported by Axios, in which Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich voted against calling for a continuation of hostage negotiations.

Communication Minister Shlomo Karhi’s speech had a similar message.

“In order to preserve the security achievements that our soldiers lost their lives for, we must resettle Gaza with security forces and settlers that will embrace the land with love,” he said, according to Haaretz. “This is the only true way, to make the Hamas Nazis pay a price and to defend our nation and country.”

Israeli officials have called for Israel to settle and take over Gaza for months. Netanyahu has said that the goal of Israel’s genocide is to eliminate any future possibility of a Palestinian state, and has released a plan for post-genocide Gaza in which Palestinians in the region are fully demilitarized and under control of Israel.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials like President Joe Biden are disingenuously clinging to messaging about a two-state solution in public, even as they give full-throated support to Israel and as the Biden administration’s own policies undermine the goal of Palestinian statehood and self-determination.

Just last week, the U.S. voted against a UN General Assembly resolution that called for the UN Security Cabinet, of which the U.S. is a member, to vote to accept Palestine as a full member of the UN and grant Palestine more rights within the body.

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