Washington criticized far-right Israeli ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir for calling for the resettlement of Palestinians outside of Gaza, a sign of more public tensions between the U.S. and Israel.
Smotrich told a local television station that he wants “to encourage willful emigration, and we need to find countries willing to take [Palestinians] in.” Ben Gvir, meanwhile, said that he wanted to see Jewish settlements established in Gaza.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller called the comments “inflammatory and irresponsible,” adding that Gaza is and will remain Palestinian land.
Washington’s criticism comes as Israeli cabinet members held secret talks with several nations about resettling Palestinian migrants, Hebrew-language media reported.
US continues material support for Israel despite strain
U.S. President Joe Biden has thrown his support behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government since the war began, but more public tensions between Israel and the U.S. have emerged in recent weeks. Calls between Biden and Netanyahu have become strained, The New York Times reported. But there is no serious discussion in Washington about cutting off support to Israel in response to the growing gulf between the two nations’ policies. Last week, the State Department agreed to send nearly $150 million in military equipment to Israel, using emergency rules to bypass Congress.
Biden’s Israel critique indicates distance from Netanyahu
Last month, Biden remarked that Israel’s “indiscriminate bombing” of Gaza risked losing the support of the international community, a comment that sparked speculation of a broader split between the U.S. and Israel. “I always saw the Biden effort to immediately embrace Netanyahu as a deposit to be drawn on later,” Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Hill. “It was never a permanent American commitment to support whatever the Israeli government did.”