(CNN) — A source told CNN that far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, leader of the “religious Zionist” party, which on Wednesday called for the “erasing” of a Palestinian town, is scheduled to travel to Washington and New York City in the week. which begins on the 12th of March.
The source added that Smotrich does not have scheduled meetings with US administration officials during his time in the United States, and it is not clear with whom he is expected to meet.
The Israeli minister’s remarks, in which he said that the Palestinian town of Hawara in the occupied West Bank “must be erased,” sparked a strong rebuke from the US State Department.
State Department spokesman Ned Price told a news briefing that the remarks were “irresponsible, abhorrent, and disgusting,” and added, “Just as we condemn Palestinian incitement to violence, we condemn these provocative statements that also amount to incitement to violence.”
There is at least one call for US authorities to revoke Smotrich’s visa in light of his statements, from an organization called Torah: Rabbinic Advocacy for Human Rights.
Israel’s finance minister’s dramatic remarks were referring to a town in the occupied West Bank where two Israeli brothers were shot dead on Sunday, sparking a furore in the area by Israeli Jewish settlers that left at least one Palestinian dead, others wounded, and homes and cars burned out.
When the finance minister was asked why he liked a Twitter post after the brothers were shot, but before the settlers got angry, he said that “Hawwara should be erased”.
“I think the village of Hawara should be wiped out,” he told a reporter at a conference run by the economic newspaper The Marker. “I think the state of Israel should do it, not – God forbid – ordinary citizens.”
On Tuesday night, the senior Israeli general in the West Bank, Yehuda Fuchs, described the actions of the Israeli settlers as a “massacre”.
Fox said the Israeli military was not adequately prepared for the revenge attacks that followed the killing of the Yaniv brothers in the town on Sunday. “We were not prepared for a massacre on the scale of dozens of people who come with devices,” he added, in unusually blunt remarks by an Israeli military official critical of the settlers. Incendiary…they went and set fire to random Palestinian homes and vehicles, etc. – simply indiscriminate terrorism.”
“This event in Hawara is a massacre committed by outlaws,” he said, using a word that originally meant organized riots against Jews during imperial Russia.
The Palestinians accused the Israeli army of attacking the Palestinians or stepping aside and allowing the settlers to riot, but Fox said that the Israeli army intervened in Hawara to defend the Palestinians from the settlers, who clashed not only with the Palestinians but with the Israeli forces and the police. Fire on Israeli outlaws who nearly killed Palestinians.
The Israeli army announced that it had sent four additional battalions to the area since Sunday in an attempt to “calm” the situation and separate the Israeli settlers from the Palestinians.
On Wednesday, Israeli police said that six additional people were arrested Tuesday night in connection with the Hawara riots — four adults and two minors.
The Times of Israel was the first to report on Smotrich’s trip to the United States.