Far-right Israeli minister calls for resettlement of Gaza after war

Bezalel Smotrich, then Israel's Minister of Transportation, speaks at a press conference on "Channel 12". Israeli Finance Minister Smotrich told Israel's Army Radio on 31 December that if Israel does the right thing, there will be an exodus of Palestinians "and we will live in the Gaza Strip." Ilia Yefimovich/dpa
Bezalel Smotrich, then Israel's Minister of Transportation, speaks at a press conference on "Channel 12". Israeli Finance Minister Smotrich told Israel's Army Radio on 31 December that if Israel does the right thing, there will be an exodus of Palestinians "and we will live in the Gaza Strip." Ilia Yefimovich/dpa
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

A far-right Israeli minister is in favour of Israeli resettlement of the Gaza Strip after the war.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich told Israel's Army Radio on Sunday that if Israel does the right thing, there will be an exodus of Palestinians "and we will live in the Gaza Strip."

"We will not allow a situation in which two million people live there. If there are 100,000 to 200,000 Arabs living in Gaza, the discussion about the day after will be completely different," Smotrich was quoted in a post by the channel on X.

"They want to leave, they have been living in a ghetto and in suffering for 75 years," he added.

Fearing a mass exodus, both Egypt and Jordan have refused to accept refugees from the embattled Gaza Strip. They also fear that ultimately, this could lead to people being permanently expelled from Gaza.

Smotrich is seen as an advocate of the vision of "Greater Israel" and is also in favour of annexing the occupied West Bank.

Palestinians, on the other hand, claim the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Arab-dominated eastern part of Jerusalem as the territory of a future state of their own.

Israel conquered the territories in 1967.

In 2005, Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip and evacuated more than 20 Israeli settlements. The United Nations still sees the Gaza Strip as territory occupied by Israel as it controls all but one border crossing.

Israel maintains that the occupation ended with the withdrawal in 2005.

Washington is clearly against Israel reoccupying the Gaza Strip and also opposes the forced expulsion of the 2.2 million Palestinians living in the narrow coastal strip.

The US is calling for a reformed Palestinian Authority to take control of the Gaza Strip after the war, though Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is against this. He wants the army to retain security control even after the war and is calling for Gaza to be demilitarized.

Since the breakout of the war, 21,822 people have been killed in the coastal area so far, according to the health authority in Gaza, which is controlled by Islamist Hamas.

The war was triggered by the worst massacre in Israel's history, carried out by terrorists from the Islamist Hamas and other groups in Israel on October 7.