Israel Will Ignore US Requests on Gaza – Finance Minister

by | Jan 10, 2024

Israel Will Ignore US Requests on Gaza – Finance Minister

by | Jan 10, 2024

screenshot 2024 01 10 153024

After Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Israel for high-level meetings, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich rejected some of the top American diplomat’s requests. Blinken asked Israel to scale down military operations in Gaza, allow Palestinians to return to the Strip, and release Palestinian tax revenue. 

On Tuesday, Blinken told members of the Israeli government that Washington expects Tel Aviv to release Palestinian tax money that is being withheld. The White House is asking Tel Aviv to transfer the funds it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority to Norway to hold for Ramallah. 

Later that day, Smotrich rejected Blinken’s demand in an X post. “American Secretary of State [Blinken], welcome to Israel. We greatly appreciate the US’s support for Israel, but as far as our existence in our country is concerned, we will always act according to the Israeli interest,” he wrote. “And so we will continue to fight with all our might to destroy Hamas, we will not transfer a shekel to the Palestinian Authority that will go to the families of the Nazis in Gaza.”

President Joe Biden also demanded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu release the tax funds during a recent phone call. Axios reported the White House viewed the conversation between the leaders as frustrating. 

After Biden issued the request, Smotrich rejected the idea. “We have a lot of respect for the USA, our best ally in the world, and for President Biden, who is a true friend of Israel.” The post continues, “But we will never leave our destiny in the hands of foreigners, and as long as I am the Minister of Finance, not a single shekel will go to the Nazi terrorists in Gaza.”

America’s top diplomat also asked Israel to scale back military operations in Gaza with the aim of refusing civilian casualties and requested that Israel allow Palestinians to return to the northern half of the Strip once it is safe. “In today’s meetings [with Israeli leaders] I was crystal clear that Palestinian civilians must be able to return home as soon as conditions allow.” Blinken added, “They must not be pressed to leave Gaza.”

Israeli Defense Minister Gallant explained to Blinken that Tel Aviv planned to intensify operations in southern Gaza. According to The Times of Israel, Gallant told the American diplomat that Israel will make “changes in combat tactics” in the north and “emphasized that operations in the region of Khan Younis will intensify and continue until Hamas leadership is detected, and Israeli hostages return home safely.”

Smotrich additionally threw cold water on Blinken’s proposal to allow Palestinians to return to northern Gaza, instead calling for the “voluntary” migration of Gazans. “And we will work to enable the opening of Gaza’s gates for the voluntary immigration of refugees, as the international community did towards the refugees from Syria and Ukraine,” he wrote in a separate X post.  

Israeli officials have promoted the idea of the “voluntary” resettlement of Palestinians. Tel Aviv is reported to be in negotiations with the Congo, Chad, and Rwanda on accepting Palestinian refugees from Gaza. 

While Tel Aviv says the policy is “voluntary” migration, the reality is Israel is making Gaza uninhabitable, leaving Palestinians little choice but to leave. About 85% of Palestinians in Gaza have been displaced since the war began. Israel is preventing aid from entering the besieged enclave. 

The Israeli policy has created horrific conditions on the ground in Gaza with widespread disease and starvation. The Israeli campaign’s targeting of hospitals in Gaza has led to Palestinians dying of preventable injuries as well.

About Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

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