28th Feb 2024

UN joins EU outcry on Israel's Gaza-expulsion rhetoric

  • Vast swathes of Gaza becoming uninhabitable after three months of Israeli bombing (Photo: UNRWA)
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The UN and leading Arab states have followed EU condemnation of Israeli talk about moving Palestinians out of Gaza.

"International law prohibits forcible transfer of protected persons within or deportation from occupied territory," said UN human rights chief Volker Turk on Thursday (4 January).

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He was "very disturbed" by Israeli statements on the issue, he added.

Regional powers Qatar and Saudi Arabia also denounced Israel's remarks.

They amounted to "toxic attempts to block the way to peace opportunities, especially the two-state solution", Qatar said.

Saudi Arabia said Israel's "extremist remarks" merited greater international intervention in the Gaza war.

They spoke out after a senior Israeli official briefed national press on Wednesday that Israel was in talks with African countries to take in Gaza refugees.

Another Israeli official denied it later the same day.

But Israeli national-security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and finance minister Bezalel Smotrich have also called for "voluntary" and "humanitarian" migration out of Gaza.

And realities on the ground point in this direction, given that most of Gaza is becoming uninhabitable for its 2.3 million people following three months of Israeli bombing.

For his part, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell also denounced Israel's rhetoric on Wednesday.

"Forced displacements are strictly prohibited as a grave violation of [international humanitarian law] and words matter," he said.

Spain said the same day it "rejects recent statements by members of the government of Israel evoking population movements in Gaza that would be contrary to international law".

"Gaza is Occupied Palestinian Territory and will be part of a future Palestinian state," the UK foreign office said.


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