Biden Administration Should Condemn, Take Steps in Response to Smotrich’s Incitement

March 1, 2023

We condemn Israeli Minister of Finance and Minister in the Ministry of Defense Bezalel Smotrich’s disgraceful comments that the Palestinian village of Huwara “should be wiped out.” We agree with Israeli Opposition Leader and former Prime Minister Yair Lapid that Smotrich’s comments constitute “incitement to a war crime.”

Especially as the Israeli official who just assumed primary authority over the occupied West Bank, Smotrich’s comments are an unconscionable threat of further violence against a Palestinian community that just suffered a deadly pogrom at the hands of Israeli settlers. Smotrich’s half-hearted attempt to walk back his remarks does not undo the damage of this incitement.

The Biden administration should not only condemn Smotrich’s threats and incitement, but also ensure that no US government officials will legitimize his extremism by meeting with him, either in the United States or elsewhere. They should make clear that Smotrich’s comments and actions are immensely damaging to the US-Israel relationship. Additionally, the administration should make clear that comments promoting grave violations of human rights, such as those made by Smotrich, are grounds for re-examination of a visa for entry to the United States.