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Israeli Finance Minister suggests returning Jewish settlers to Gaza after war

1 min

In a controversial statement on Sunday, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich proposed the return of Jewish settlers to the Gaza Strip after any potential war, suggesting that the Palestinian population there should be "encouraged" to emigrate to other countries.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, Reuters/Amir Cohen

In a controversial statement on Sunday, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich proposed the return of Jewish settlers to the Gaza Strip after any potential war, suggesting that the Palestinian population there should be "encouraged" to emigrate to other countries.

"To achieve security, we need to control the territory, and to maintain long-term military control, we need a civilian presence," Smotrich stated in an interview with military radio, responding to a question about the possibility of reestablishing settlements in the Gaza Strip.

In 2005, Israel withdrew its army and approximately 8,000 settlers from the Gaza Strip, which had been under Israeli occupation since 1967, as part of a unilateral withdrawal plan initiated by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Bezalel Smotrich, the leader of the "Religious Zionism" party, is part of the current governing coalition. His controversial remarks have not been well-received by the government, and it's important to note that Israel has no intention of resettling Gaza or forcibly relocating its population.

This is not the first time Bezalel Smotrich has made inflammatory statements, often seen as attempts to mobilize his electoral base.

By Ronit Shor 

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