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US condemns Smotrich's 'repugnant, disgusting' call for Israel to wipe out Huwwara

State Department spokesperson calls on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to disavow Smotrich's remarks
Smotrich is expected to visit the US later this month, where he will meet with the Israel Bonds organisation.
Smotrich is expected to visit the US later this month (AFP/File photo)
By MEE staff in Washington

The US on Wednesday condemned the comments made by Israel's finance minister in which he called for the Palestinian village of Huwwara to be "wiped out", and said the remarks were "repugnant, irresponsible and disgusting".

US State Department spokesman Ned Price called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials to "publicly and clearly" disavow Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich's comments.

"I want to be very clear about this. These comments were irresponsible. They were repugnant. They were disgusting," Price told reporters on Wednesday.

"And just as we condemn Palestinian incitement to violence, we condemn these provocative remarks that also amount to incitement to violence."

Earlier on Wednesday, Smotrich, who in addition to being finance minister is responsible for Israel's civil administration in the occupied West Bank, said Israel should "wipe out" the Palestinian village of Huwwara in the wake of a violent rampage by settlers on Sunday.

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"The Palestinian village of Huwwara should be wiped out. The state needs to do it and not private citizens," he said.

According to Axios, Smotrich later walked back the comments. In a statement, he blamed the media for manipulating his comments and said he did not want to wipe Huwwara off the map, but wanted to act "in a surgical way" against "terrorists" in the village to restore security.

Smotrich is expected to visit the US later this month and will meet with the New York-based Israel Bonds organisation.

He does not have any meetings scheduled with the Biden administration, and two US officials told Axios that "even if he asked for meetings with Biden officials, he likely wouldn't get them".

US condemns 'wide scale' violence in Huwwara

On Sunday, hundreds of Israeli settlers, flanked by soldiers, attacked Palestinian towns and villages near Nablus, following a shooting that killed two Israelis in the town of Huwwara earlier that day.  

In the rampage on Huwwara and other Palestinian villages, at least one Palestinian was killed and nearly 400 were wounded. Israel's police have arrested 10 people for suspected involvement in the attack.

Before and after the mob violence took place, several Israeli politicians, including Smotrich, appeared to encourage or support the settlers' actions.

Smotrich liked a tweet that called for Israeli politicians to show no mercy and that the "village of Huwwara should be erased today".

On Tuesday, former defence minister Benny Gantz said Smotrich wanted "another Nakba", a term that describes the massacres and forced expulsion Palestinians endured at the hands of Zionist militias in 1948, as the new Israeli state came into existence.

Hady Amr, US special representative for Palestinian affairs, condemned the “wide scale, indiscriminate violence” by Israeli settlers after visiting Huwwara, and said that he wanted to see "full accountability and legal prosecution" of the Israeli settlers responsible for the mob violence.

Also on Tuesday, a group of 22 Israeli legal experts called on the attorney general to investigate Smotrich's comments, as well as remarks by other pro-settler government MPs.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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