Israel wants U.S. and Western allies to take in Gaza refugees
11/30/2023 // Belle Carter // Views

For the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) members Danny Danon and Ram Ben-Barak, the West needs to resettle Palestinian migrants who are displaced due to the ongoing Israel military operations in the Gaza Strip.

In a Nov. 13 Wall Street Journal article, the two said that since Europe and the U.S. have accepted millions who fled earlier wars, they should also welcome Gaza refugees. Danon and Ben-Bara noted that although Hamas won the 2006 elections in Gaza and took control of the area from the Palestinian Authority the following year, the militant group already claimed to be no longer responsible for the people living there. They added that despite a United Nations resolution calling for an "immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce" and demanding that all parties allow the "continuous, sufficient and unhindered" provision of essential supplies and services into the enclave, these did not do anything tangible to help the residents.

"It is imperative that the international community explore potential solutions to help civilians caught in the crisis," the duo said in the WSJ entry, emphasizing the idea that countries accept limited numbers of Gazan families who have expressed a desire to relocate. "Countries can accomplish this by creating well-structured and internationally coordinated relocation programs. Members of the international community can collaborate to provide one-time financial-support packages to Gazans interested in moving to help with relocation costs and to ease refugees’ acclimation to their new communities," they added, pointing to Europe, which has a long history of assisting refugees fleeing conflicts.

They cited the former Yugoslavia war that displaced millions, mostly from Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the Kosovo war as examples. "Germany, Austria and Sweden accepted large numbers," they said of the Yugoslavian conflict. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians fled to neighboring Albania and the country now called North Macedonia. "Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. also accepted refugees," they added. The two went on to mention Germany, Sweden and France providing refuge to Syrians since the civil war started in 2011. Between 2015 and 2016, Germany alone admitted more than 1.2 million refugees and asylum-seekers, about a quarter of whom were Syrian.

The Israeli political figures insisted that for the war they are waging with Hamas, the international community should have a moral obligation and take this as 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 is a senior Likud member of the Knesset who previously served as ambassador to the United Nations. Likud is a hard-right Israeli party that is thoroughly opposed to the establishment of a two-state solution with the Palestinians. Ben-Barak is a Knesset member of the Yesh Atid party, a centrist Israeli party. He previously served as a deputy director of the Mossad from 2009 to 2011.

Do not admit Gazan refugees: Republicans to Biden

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 1.4 million people have been displaced inside Gaza since war erupted after Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct 7.

To date, President Joe Biden has not announced any policies for taking in Palestinian refugees in the country. "Right now…the focus is on getting humanitarian assistance in and trying to work on some measure of safe passage out," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said back in October when asked whether some refugees from Gaza should come to the United States. But as early as now, several politicians have called to block Palestinians from coming to the U.S. over terrorism fears. Hamas is considered a terrorist group by the US, the European Union and Israel. (Related: You're paying for the Israel war. You'll also pay for the refugees.)

Former president and Biden's top presidential contender Donald Trump vowed in his Iowa visit last month to bar refugees from Gaza. He also suggested in an online post that "The same people that raided Israel are pouring into our once beautiful U.S.A., through our TOTALLY OPEN SOUTHERN BORDER."

Moreover, another presidential hopeful, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that the U.S. should not take in any Palestinian refugees fleeing Gaza because they "are all antisemitic." Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who was also Trump's ex-ambassador to the United Nations, countered that "America has always been sympathetic to the fact that you can separate civilians from terrorists." Never Back Down, DeSantis' super PAC is running an ad implying Haley is soft on allowing refugees into the country, which the Haley campaign rebuts as "false." Some Republican lawmakers have even introduced bills dubbed the "GAZA Act," with the letters of the Palestinian territory's name standing for: "Guaranteeing Aggressors Zero Admission."

On the other hand, former Vice President Mike Pence suggested taking them in but prioritizing women and children, while South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott endorsed the country turning away Gaza refugees because authorities will be unable to determine "who is safe to bring in and who's not."

Meanwhile, Sunil Varghese, policy director of the International Refugee Assistance Project, called such proposed measures xenophobic and added that they fail to acknowledge that it would be impossible for the refugees to come to the United States. "There's no way to get out of Gaza. There's no safe way to get out of the region. … Civilians in Gaza are stuck there under continuing bombardment. Egypt is not opening its borders. Israel is not opening its borders. … Even Palestinian Americans cannot get out," Varghese insisted.

Bookmark for more updates on the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

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