Israeli finance minister calls for voluntary transfer of Gazans, resettling Israelis

Smotrich decried a situation in which Gaza will be a ‘hothouse of 2 million people who want destroy the State of Israel.’

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

In an interview with Channel 12 news, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich discussed the “voluntary emigration” of Palestinians from Gaza, the importance of Israel maintaining security controls in the region, and the possibility of re-establishing Israeli towns there after the war.

Smotrich warned against a situation in which Gaza will once again be a “hothouse of two million people who want destroy the State of Israel.”

Instead, Smotrich proposed encouraging “voluntary emigration.”

He said, “If there were 100,000-200,000 Arabs in the Strip and not two million, the whole conversation about the day after [the war] would be completely different.”

He added, “They want to leave. They have been living in a ghetto for 75 years and are in need.”

When asked if Israel should re-establish towns in Gaza after the war, Smotrich said, “I don’t think there’s anyone in Israel who doesn’t want to see Jewish settlements everywhere.”

Several government ministers, however, have dismissed the idea of re-establishing Jewish communities in Gaza, and many are reluctant to say anything that would imply displacing Palestinians to avoid evoking the anger of Israel’s allies.

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However, Smotrich’s influence is clearly felt in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s postponement of a war cabinet meeting to discuss the future of the Gaza Strip after the war.

Although Smotrich isn’t a member of the war cabinet, it is reported he put pressure on Netanyahu to postpone the meeting to avoid discussing any proposals about the control of  Gaza after the war.

The Biden Administration, which proposed that the Palestinian Authority control Gaza after the war, was disappointed with the meeting’s cancellation.

Smotrich rules out the possibility of the Palestinian Authority ruling Gaza and insists Israel must be in full control.

He said, “We will be in security control, and we will need there to be civil [control].”

Smotrich added, “We’ll need to rule there for a long time… If we want to be there militarily, we need to be there in a civilian fashion.”

The Finance Minister was adamant that money and fuel should not be transferred directly into Gaza, although he gave the green light to other types of humanitarian aid.

“Not even a shekel will be transferred to Gaza,” he said. “Gazans are not innocent.”

Smotrich continued, “I was against fuel [entering] and I still am. Fuel is power for terrorism and the tunnels. It is happening and it is bad.”