Thousands of Israelis, including far-right ministers and Netanyahu allies, attended a conference in Jerusalem to demand the restoration of Jewish settlements in Gaza Strip and West Bank.
The right-wing Nahala organization held a conference titled “Settlement Brings Security and Victory” on Sunday night, January 28.
Israeli media reports that 12 Likud Party ministers and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, attended the conference, Reuters reported.
Participants in a conference carried weapons, while vendors selling T-shirts advertising “Gaza is part of the Land of Israel” outside the center.
The conference also featured a large map on one wall displaying the planned settlement locations in Gaza, including key Palestinian cities.
During the conference, Smotrich returning to the settlements in Gaza means security, and warned of the negative repercussions of evacuating these areas.
Ben Gvir addressed the crowd, saying, “The only way to prevent attacks like those committed by Hamas on October 7 is for Israel to control the Palestinian territories.”
He added, “The role of courageous leadership is to make courageous decisions. It is time to return home, to (the former Jewish settlements in Gaza) Gush Katif and Northern Samaria. It is time to encourage immigration and it is time to win using the biblical name for the northern West Bank.”
Taking to X, on Sunday, Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid criticized the conference.
“The most harmful government in the country’s history reaches a new low tonight. The settlement conference in Gaza of the “Otzma Yehudit” party, with many ministers from the Likud party, is a disgrace to Netanyahu and to a party that was once at the center of the national camp and is now trailing helplessly behind the extremists,” Lapid said.
He added, “This is international damage, it is damage to a possible deal, it endangers the IDF soldiers, it is a terrible irresponsibility. Netanyahu is incompetent, this government is incompetent.”
On more than one occasion, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that re-settlement in the Gaza Strip at the present time is “unrealistic.”
In 2005, Israel retreated from the Gaza Strip, removing over 20 settlements and displacing around 2.2 million Palestinians living there.
According to the United Nations, settlement activity in the occupied territories is “illegal,” and it is Israel’s responsibility to stop it immediately. The organisation warns that such activity jeopardises the prospects of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.