With the claim that the remarks made by a far-right cabinet member to “erase” a volatile Palestinian village had been “inappropriate,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to quell the outcry from around the world on Sunday.
However, Netanyahu also fought back against the criticism of Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, accusing foreign governments of downplaying Palestinian violence such as the killing of two Israeli brothers in Huwara village on February 26 that resulted in a settler rampage.
Smotrich stated last week that while he opposed vigilantism, he thought Israel should “erase Huwara. ”
The remarks were described as “irresponsible,” “disgusting,” and “repugnant” by the U.S. State Department, which advised Netanyahu to reject and disavow them.
Smotrich had made “an unfathomable statement of incitement to violence,” according to the U.N. human rights chief.
He offered a retraction on Saturday, but he did not offer an apology, as the Israeli media speculated that Smotrich, who is scheduled to visit Washington next week, would be turned down by the administration of the United States, thereby complicating its ties to the Netanyahu government.
“I misspoke because I was upset,” Smotrich told Channel 12 TV.
The Palestinians have pleaded with the United States government not to accept Smotrich. Netanyahu has stated that he controls Israeli diplomacy, not coalition partners like Smotrich.
Sunday, Netanyahu tweeted, “It is important for all of us to work to tone down the rhetoric, lower the temperature.” He thanked Smotrich for “making clear that his choice of words… was inappropriate.”
Netanyahu continued, “I am still waiting to hear a condemnation for the murder of the Yaniv brothers from the Palestinian Authority.” Additionally, Israel is awaiting international pressure on the Palestinian Authority to condemn that attack. It has not only failed to do so, but it continues to ignore the PA’s widespread incitement.”
Ned Price, a spokesperson for the State Department, tweeted on Thursday: We condemn the provocative remarks made by Finance Minister Smotrich, which also amount to an incitement to violence, in the same way that we condemn the Palestinian incitement to violence. In order to restore calm, Palestinians and Israelis must collaborate.
The Palestinian health ministry stated that since the beginning of 2023, at least 62 Palestinians, including gunmen and civilians, have been killed. Israel claims that Palestinian attacks resulted in the deaths of thirteen Israelis and a Ukrainian tourist during the same time frame.
The siblings killed in Huwara were from a close by Jewish settlement, a local area the Palestinians consider gatecrashers on involved West Bank land that they need for a future state. The settlements are considered illegal by most world powers.
Huwara’s settlers staged a riot hours after the brothers were shot in their car by a gunman who then fled the scene. A Palestinian man was killed by a gunshot, dozens were wounded, and cars and houses were set on fire. During the rampage, Israel has detained ten suspects.
According to Israel Bonds’ website, the meeting on March 12 will also feature a “high-level U.S. Government speaker.” Smotrich is scheduled to appear there. That speaker isn’t named.