Denying report of talks with Congo, official says Gazan resettlement ‘an illusion’

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024. (AP/Fatima Shbair)
Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024. (AP/Fatima Shbair)

A senior Israeli official denies a report from The Times of Israel sister site Zman Yisrael today that Israel is “in talks with the Congo” discussing the possibility of relocating thousands of Gazans.

“There are those in Israel who think that there is a willingness on the part of Gazans to emigrate voluntarily,” he says. “It’s a baseless illusion in my opinion. No country will absorb 2 million people, or 1 million, or 100,000, or 5,000. I don’t know where that idea came from.”

“It could be between Congo and Gazans, but Israel is not conducting any talks with any country on this issue,” the official continues. “I don’t want to say it’s fake, but it can’t be through us since we have no connection to it. [The Congolese] can talk to the Gazans and ask them to move to Congo.”

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir have recently called for Gazans to be resettled outside of the Strip, drawing wide condemnation.

Let’s say Smotrich wanted to do it, what can he do? We’re not part of this. We are not in a position where we can bring people from here to Congo…we’re not in the loop,” says the official.

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