Israeli President Isaac Herzog said on Sunday that the displacement of Palestinians in Gaza is “absolutely not” the position of the Israeli government, despite widely rebuked remarks from a few Cabinet members embracing this position.
His remarks come after some high-level Cabinet officials have come under fire for advocating the resettlement of Palestinians outside Gaza, amid the ongoing war that has killed more than 20,000 people in the besieged enclave.
Herzog, who took office last month as the head of state, said in a televised address that he was “shocked and appalled” by the statements of some ministers, who suggested that Israel should “encourage the emigration” of Gazans to other countries, or “relocate” them to other Arab states.
He said that these statements were “contrary to the values and the interests of the State of Israel, and to the basic principles of human rights and international law”.
He said that these statements were also “harmful to the security and the stability of the region, and to the prospects of peace and coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians”.
He said that these statements were “isolated and irresponsible”, and that they did not reflect the official policy or the consensus of the Israeli government, which is led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A More Moderate Government
He said that the Israeli government’s policy was to “defend the sovereignty and the citizens of Israel from the terrorist attacks of Hamas”, the Palestinian group that controls Gaza, and to “seek a diplomatic and humanitarian solution to the crisis in Gaza, in coordination with the international community and the moderate Arab states”.
He said that the Israeli government’s policy was also to “support the reconstruction and the development of Gaza, under the condition that Hamas renounces violence and recognizes Israel’s right to exist”.
He said that the Israeli government’s policy was also to “resume the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, which is the legitimate and recognized representative of the Palestinian people, and to work towards a two-state solution, based on the mutual recognition and the respect of the rights and the aspirations of both peoples”.
He said that the Israeli government’s policy was “in line with the vision and the legacy of the founders of the State of Israel, who envisioned a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace and harmony with its neighbors”.
He said that he, as the president of Israel, was “committed to uphold and to promote this vision and this legacy, and to represent the true face and the voice of Israel to the world”.
He said that he, as the president of Israel, was also “committed to reach out and to dialogue with all the segments and the sectors of the Israeli society, and to foster the unity and the solidarity of the Israeli people, in these challenging and critical times”.
He said that he, as the president of Israel, was also “committed to extend a hand of friendship and of cooperation to the Palestinian people, and to express the sympathy and the solidarity of the Israeli people, with the suffering and the tragedy of the people of Gaza”.
He said that he hoped and prayed that the war in Gaza would end soon, and that a lasting and comprehensive peace would prevail in the region.