Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90
Gazans at the site of an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, December 22, 2023.

The Direct Polls survey that was published last Thursday (Direct Polls: Gantz and Bibi Neck-and-Neck, Smotrich Beats the Threshold) included the question: “To what degree do you support encouraging the voluntary emigration of Gaza Strip residents?”

The response of 1,487 adults (18+) who are a representative sample of the general population in Israel, with a statistical sampling error of ± 3.9%, at a 95% probability, was overwhelmingly in favor of the idea.


68% support it strongly
15% are quite supportive
8% don’t really support it
9% don’t support it at all

On November 13, MKs Danny Danon (Likud) and Ram Ben-Barak (Yesh Atid) published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal headlined, “The West Should Welcome Gaza Refugees.”

“As the war continues … UN resolutions are doing nothing tangible to help Gaza’s residents. It is imperative that the international community explore potential solutions to help civilians caught in the crisis,” the two MKs from the left and right sides of the aisle wrote.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich stated on November 14: “I welcome the initiative of the voluntary evacuation of Gaza Arabs to the countries of the world. This is the right humanitarian solution for the residents of Gaza and the entire region after 75 years of poverty and suffering. Most of the population of Gaza is the fourth and fifth generation of the 1948 refugees, who, instead of being rehabilitated a long time ago on a personal and human basis like hundreds of millions of refugees all over the world, were held hostage in Gaza in poverty and overcrowding and were a symbol of the desire to destroy the State of Israel and return the refugees to Jaffa, Haifa, Acre, and Tiberias.”

Smotrich added: “This was also the reason for the intense hatred on which the population of Gaza is being raised and educated regarding the State of Israel and the Jews, a hatred that explains the cruelty of the massacre by Hamas-ISIS against the citizens of Israel, as if the State of Israel was the source of all their miseries, and so the solution lies in its destruction.”

On December 4, MK Moshe Passal (Likud) submitted a bill encouraging the migration of Gaza residents to countries that are willing to receive them. The bill offers monetary compensation to the residents willing to emigrate as well as the countries willing to absorb them.

The idea of removing all or some of the Arabs from Eretz Israel has been debated since before the establishment of the Jewish State. The British Zionist leader Israel Zangwill suggested in 1904 that the Arabs must be expelled by force, and Baron Edmund James de Rothschild was prepared to pay them to leave willingly. Ze’ev Jabotinsky in 1937 supported the voluntary emigration of the Arabs. One year earlier, the Peel Commission which proposed dividing the country into Arab and Jewish states, also proposed the evacuation of Arabs from the Jewish to the Arab territory, which received the enthusiastic support of David Ben Gurion.


Gazans at the site of an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, December 22, 2023. / Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90

The situation on the ground in Gaza, especially in Gaza City and the other cities of the northern Strip makes the return of more than a million Arabs to their homes impossible. Those homes no longer exist, nor does any semblance of an infrastructure. Even if Hamas is defeated tomorrow and the IDF lets up the fighting, and even if the needed billions of dollars are made available, rebuilding northern Gaza would take years.

A report issued for the UN on Thursday by IPC (Integrated Food Security Phase Classification) determined that Gaza’s entire population, estimated at more than 2.2 million (though some studies claim that population number is artificially inflated), is facing crisis or worse levels of hunger, with the risk of widespread famine increasing every day (UNSC Postpones Vote on Humanitarian Aid for Gaza, US Wants Text It Won’t Have to Veto).

About 50% of the population (1.17 million people) is in an emergency phase, and at least one in four households (more than half a million people) is facing catastrophic conditions. These are characterized by households experiencing an extreme lack of food, starvation, and exhaustion of coping capacities.

Those Gazans cannot afford to wait for the hostilities to subside and for their homes to be rebuilt. They must find a humane solution to their plight elsewhere.

Canada’s Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marc Miller on Thursday announced a temporary immigration program for Gaza Strip residents with Canadian relatives. Canadians seeking to ensure the safety of their extended family members in the Gaza Strip will soon have the opportunity to apply for temporary visas on their behalf (Canada to Absorb Gazan Immigrants, Biden Rejects Pressuring Egypt to Help).

“This expands the definition and allows us a greater set of people that may not be permanent residents or Canadians, but for all intents and purposes represent the family,” Minister Miller said at a news conference in Ottawa, adding, “Many are concerned about the safety of loved ones currently residing in Gaza. It is unlivable.”


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