Two Israeli lawmakers call on European countries to take in Gaza refugees

Criticizing international community for not helping in tangible way, a coalition and an opposition MK urge countries to find solutions for 1.2 million Gazans displaced by war

Ram Ben-Barak (left) and Danny Danon (right) (Yonatan Sindel, Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash 90)
Ram Ben-Barak (left) and Danny Danon (right) (Yonatan Sindel, Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash 90)

Two Israeli lawmakers, one from the ruling Likud party and the other from the opposition Yesh Atid party, have urged the international community to take in Palestinian refugees from the Gaza Strip

In a rare display of cross-party solidarity, Danny Danon (Likud) and Ram Ben-Barak (Yesh Atid) published an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, calling for “countries around the world to accept limited numbers of Gazan families who have expressed a desire to relocate.”

However, the call was likely to spark international criticism amid repeated allegations from Palestinians and Arab countries that Israel was ultimately looking to expel Palestinians from Gaza. Egypt and Jordan have said they will not accept any situation that sees Palestinians uprooted from their homes.

Since Hamas’s deadly onslaught in southern Israel on October 7, in which invading terrorists killed at least 1,200 people and took some 240 hostages, Israel has been engaged in an intense war against the terror group, vowing to eradicate it from the Gaza Strip, which it has ruled since 2007.

The intense airstrikes and subsequent ground operation in Gaza have left more than 800,000 people displaced after Israel urged them to evacuate the northern part of the enclave, where the bulk of Hamas’s infrastructure is situated.

Humanitarian bodies inside the Gaza Strip have described the situation as catastrophic, and while international aid has slowly been reaching civilians, it has done little to alleviate the burden.

Writing that “Hamas’s unprovoked terrorist attack has endangered not only Israel but the more than two million people who live in the Gaza Strip,” Danon and Ben-Barak criticized the United Nations for “doing nothing tangible to help Gaza’s residents” and urged the international community to “explore potential solutions to help civilians caught in the crisis.”

Palestinians walk on road after fleeing from their homes in Gaza City to the southern part of Gaza, November 11, 2023. (Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90)

One such solution would be for countries in Europe to accept a limited number of Gazan refugees who are looking to relocate from the war-torn coastal enclave, they suggested.

Citing the war in the former country of Yugoslavia and the Kosovo war as times that European countries have opened their borders to refugees, as well as the 1.2 million refugees accepted by Germany in the wake of the Syrian civil war, the two lawmakers urged countries around the world to “offer a haven for Gaza residents who seek relocation.”

“We simply need a handful of the world’s nations to share the responsibility of hosting Gazan residents. Even if countries took in as few as 10,000 people each, it would help alleviate the crisis,” they continued.

“The international community has a moral imperative—and an opportunity—to demonstrate compassion, help the people of Gaza move toward a more prosperous future and work together to achieve greater peace and stability in the Middle East.”

Danon and Ben-Barak are not the first to raise the option of granting refugee status to displaced Gazans.

On October 16, a report in the Financial Times indicated that in response to being pressured by the European Union to accept refugees fleeing Gaza, Egypt in return suggested that European countries do the same.

But some European countries have expressed outright disdain for the idea of accepting Gazan refugees. At a European Union summit in Brussels in October, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban warned that “those who support migration also support terrorism,” and shortly after, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced that her country would be tightening its border control policies.

While the British government has not commented on calls to accept refugees from Gaza, Scotland’s first minister Humza Yousaf has discussed the option of granting safe passage to Scotland for those who want to leave.

“In the past, people in Scotland and across the UK have opened our hearts and our homes and welcomed those from Syria, Ukraine and many other countries. We must do so again,” Yousaf said during an interview two weeks after the outbreak of war.

“Scotland is willing to be the first country in the UK to offer safety and sanctuary to those caught up in these terrible attacks.”

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