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Israeli ministers and lawmakers attended a conference this week that called for the reestablishment of Israeli settlements and the relocation of the Palestinian population from the Gaza Strip, igniting condemnation and concerns from Israel’s international allies amid its ongoing war with Hamas, the Times of Israel reported.
Thousands of people attended Sunday’s conference in Jerusalem, called “Victory of Israel Conference: Settlement Brings Security.” The event saw speeches from far-right leaders, including National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir who called for “encouraging voluntary emigration” of Palestinians from Gaza.
Another minister, Shlomo Karhi, countered that the emigration need not be voluntary during wartime – referring to Israel’s current conflict with Hamas in the Palestinian enclave.
The war broke out following a surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7 by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups that killed more than 1,200 people and saw the kidnapping of more than 240 people.
While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the conference’s agenda is not part of the government’s policy, he did not condemn the attendance of the cabinet members which raised eyebrows within Israel and abroad.
But ministers in the National Unity party – the center-right group that is part of Israel’s emergency war cabinet – condemned the conference as divisive and harmful to the country’s war effort.
Criticism also came from the United States, France and the United Kingdom over specific statements made by the senior officials involving the resettlement of Palestinians, and the countries urged the Israeli government to reprimand them.
Analysts said the involvement of government officials in the conference appears to contradict the recent ruling by the International Court of Justice over Israel’s actions in Gaza, according to the Guardian.
Last week, the court mandated Israel to “take all measures within its power” to avoid acts of genocide in its war in Gaza, including the “prevention and punishment of genocidal rhetoric,” World Politics Review added.