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US Condemns Israeli Minister’s Call to Erase Palestinian Town


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The United States condemned Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s statements in favor of “erasing” the small Palestinian town of Huwwara in the West Bank.

“These comments were irresponsible. They were abhorrent and disgusting,” he said in Washington. “Just as we condemn the Palestinian incitement to violence, we condemn these provocative statements, which also amount to incitement to violence,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Wednesday.

The condemnation comes after Smotrich, who is also in charge of settlement expansion in the West Bank, said on Wednesday that “the village of Huwwara must be wiped out. I think the State of Israel should do it — for God’s sake, not ordinary citizens.”

Price went on to call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials to “publicly and clearly reject and disavow these comments.”

He added that the United States has consistently urged that there be equal procedures for accountability for actions regardless of the background of the perpetrators or victims.

Now more than ever, he said, it is important for Israelis and Palestinians to work together to de-escalate tensions and restore the quiet that both Israelis and Palestinians deserve.

According to estimates by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, about 7,400 Palestinians live in the town of Hawara, located south of the city of Nablus in the northern West Bank.

A central connecting road runs through the small town, and is also used daily by many Israeli settlers in the northern West Bank.

Earlier on Sunday, two Israelis were said to have been shot dead by a Palestinian in Hawara. Afterwards, Israeli settlers rioted to kill one person and injure hundreds of other Palestinians. Dozens of homes, shops and cars were also set on fire.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 63 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli military violence, while 13 Israelis and a Ukrainian woman have been killed in alleged Palestinian attacks.

Israel has occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967. Today, more than 600,000 Israeli settlers live there.

The Palestinians claim the lands to establish an independent state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.

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