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Gulf states condemn Israeli calls for Gazans emigration

US announces $53 mln in new Palestinian aid, urges access
Image of Refugee camp after Israeli strike (Oct 31, 2023)

Several Gulf Arab states on Thursday strongly condemned comments by two Israeli ministers calling for Palestinians to emigrate from the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Monday called for promoting “a solution to encourage the emigration of Gaza’s residents” and the re-establishment of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory, a day after far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich made similar comments.

Saudi Arabia “categorically condemns and rejects the comments of the two ministers”, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The kingdom called on the international community to act in the face of the Israeli government’s “persistence” in violating international law “through its statements and actions”.

Qatar, which played a mediating role in the temporary truce between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas at the end of November, also “condemned in the strongest terms” the comments made by the two ministers.

“The policy of collective punishment and forced displacement practised by the occupation authorities against the inhabitants of Gaza will not change the fact that Gaza is Palestinian land and will remain Palestinian,” reads a statement published by Qatar’s foreign ministry.

Kuwait followed suit, warning against “Israeli plans to displace Gaza residents in particular, and the Palestinian people in general”.

The United Arab Emirates, which normalised ties with Israel in 2020, also “condemned in the strongest terms the extremist statements” of the two ministers.

The UAE voiced its “categorical rejection of such offensive statements and of all practices… which threaten further escalation and instability in the region,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The United States, France and the European Union have also denounced the comments.

The Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not officially suggested plans to evict Gazans or to send Jewish settlers back to the territory since the war broke out in October.

The fighting erupted after Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, resulting in the deaths of around 1,140 people, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

In response, Israel vowed to destroy the group, launching bombardment and a ground invasion that has reduced swathes of Gaza to rubble and claimed at least 22,438 lives, according to the territory’s health ministry.

The vast majority of Gaza’s residents have been forced out of their homes by nearly three months of war.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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