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Israeli minister denies the existence of a Palestinian identification, inviting US rebuke

Jerusalem CNN  — 

Israel’s far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich denied the existence of a Palestinian folks or nationhood over the weekend, prompting a rebuke from the US simply weeks after calling for a Palestinian city to be “erased.”

Smotrich, a Jewish nationalist, argued that the concept of Palestinian nationhood was invented up to now century in response to the Zionist motion to discovered modern-day Israel.

“Who was the primary Palestinian king? What language do the Palestinians have? Was there ever a Palestinian foreign money? Is there a Palestinian historical past or tradition? Nothing. There is no such thing as a such factor as a Palestinian folks,” Smotrich mentioned at a speech in Paris.

US Nationwide Safety Council Spokesman John Kirby on Monday objected to the feedback, saying they might not assist to calm tensions within the area.

“We totally object to that sort of language. And It’s extraordinarily unhelpful to – once more – making an attempt to de-escalate the tensions and looking for a viable two-state resolution going ahead,” Kirby mentioned, chatting with Israeli Channel 13. “We don’t wish to see any rhetoric, any motion or rhetoric – fairly frankly – that may stand in the best way or grow to be an impediment to a viable two-state resolution, and language like that does.”

The Palestinian Authority presidency slammed Smotrich’s remarks as “racist,” calling them “an try to falsify historical past.”

In a press release, the PA asserted that the Palestinian folks “have existed on this land without end.”

Hamas, the militant Palestinian Islamist motion that runs Gaza and requires Israel’s destruction, additionally known as Smotrich’s feedback racist, saying they “clearly replicate the fascist insurance policies of colonial settlement enlargement and compelled eviction of the Palestinian folks, on which the occupation state was based,” in reference to Israel.

Smotrich’s look in Paris additionally triggered a diplomatic incident between Israel and Jordan. The rostrum he was standing at was draped in what seemed to be a variation of the Israeli flag displaying an enlarged map of Israel that included the occupied West Financial institution, Gaza and most of Jordan.

A spokesperson for Smotrich mentioned the flag used on the occasion he attended was “set ornament” put there by the convention organizers and that the minister was solely a visitor, in response to Reuters.

Jordan summoned the Israeli ambassador to Amman on Monday in protest, citing Smotrich’s use of the map.

Jordan’s international ministry “warned of the seriousness of the continuation of those extremist racist actions issued by the identical minister who had beforehand known as for the erasure of the Palestinian village of Huwara.” It added that Smotrich’s actions had been a violation the Jordanian-Israel peace treaty.

Israel’s international ministry tweeted in response saying it was “dedicated to the 1994 peace settlement with Jordan” including that Israel “acknowledges the territorial integrity” of Jordan.

Tzachi Hanegbi, head of Israel’s Nationwide Safety Council, additionally mentioned he spoke with Jordan’s International Minister Ayman Safadi to reaffirm Israel’s dedication to Jordan’s territorial integrity and the Israel-Jordan peace treaty.

Smotrich’s feedback got here on the identical day that Israeli and Palestinian officers met in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, to try to calm tensions forward of the Ramadan and Passover holidays. Amongst different agreements the 2 sides pledged “to develop a mechanism to curb and counter violence, incitement, and inflammatory statements and actions.”

The minister, who additionally has some powers over the Israeli unit that controls border crossings and permits for Palestinians, has a protracted historical past of denying the existence of a Palestinian nation and has beforehand made controversial statements about them in addition to on different points like LGBTQ rights.

Earlier this month, he made incendiary feedback saying that the Palestinian city of Huwara within the West Financial institution “must be erased” after two Israeli brothers had been shot and killed whereas driving via the city. Israeli settlers went on revenge assaults within the aftermath, the place one Palestinian man died. Smotrich later apologized for the remarks saying that they had been made in a “storm of feelings”.

Further reporting by Ibrahim Dahman in Gaza and Tatiana Arias and Amir Ahmed in Atlanta.

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