UN pushes back on Smotrich suggestion Gazans should leave

The United Nations is implicitly criticizing Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich for his calls to encourage Palestinians in Gaza to leave the territory, reiterating the 193-member world body’s strong opposition to forced displacement.

UN associate spokesperson Florencia Soto Niño tells reporters Wednesday that “no one should be advocating for mass displacement of Palestinians out of Gaza.”

On Wednesday, Smotrich wrote that 70% of Israelis support “voluntary migration” for Palestinians from Gaza to other countries.

Smotrich’s initial call encouraging Palestinians to leave Gaza was met with an international outcry including from Israel’s closest ally the United States, its top European ally Germany and neighboring Egypt.

Soto Niño stresses that Palestinian civilians should be safe in Gaza.

“Every person has the right to be protected from forced displacement from their home or residence, and so far 85% of this population has been internally displaced and is living in pretty dire conditions,” she says. “They have the right to return to their homes.”

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