THE Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir suggested again today mass removal of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, rejecting criticism from the US which called his previous similar statements “irresponsible”.

“The US is our good friend, but above all we will do what is good for the state of Israel: encouraging the migration of hundreds of thousands of people from Gaza will allow the (Israeli) residents to return to their homes and live safely while protecting our soldiers,” wrote Ben Gvir in X in response to American criticism.

Ben Gvir, head of the far-right pro-settler party Jewish Power, had called on Monday for Jewish settlers to return to Gaza after the end of the war and for the Palestinian population to be “encouraged” to immigrate. Similar statements were made on Sunday by the also far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

The expulsion of a population from its territory is prohibited by the Geneva Conventions, the heart of international humanitarian law, while the International Criminal Court describes “the displacement or forcible transfer of a population” as a war crime.

“The US rejects recent statements by Israeli ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, who favor the relocation of Palestinians outside the Gaza Strip,” stressed in his announcement yesterday the representative of the US Ministry of Foreign Affairs Matthew Miller, characterizing these views as “irresponsible”.

And Smotrich, head of the “Religious Zionism” party, returned to the subject today stating that “70% of Israeli public opinion supports the voluntary emigration of Arabs from Gaza and their absorption by other countries.”

According to him, “the supporters of this humanitarian solution understand that a small country like ours cannot allow a reality to prevail in which just four minutes from our communities there is a hotbed of hatred and terrorism, where two million people wake up every morning with the desire to destroy the state of Israel”.

Smotrich had denied during his private visit to Paris in March the existence of the Palestinian people. “There are no Palestinians because there is no Palestinian people,” he said.

The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — an alliance of right-wing, far-right and ultra-Orthodox Jewish formations — is already accused of increasing the presence of settlers in the West Bank, a Palestinian territory that has been under Israeli occupation since 1967.