For the Israeli administrator of the West Bank, there is no Palestinian people!

Smotrich accused of inciting violence - Photo EPA, Abir Sultan

"Is There a Palestinian History or Culture?" They don't exist. There is no such thing as a Palestinian people," Smotrich said on Sunday during a visit to France

Israel's finance minister angered Palestinians and Arab neighbors and alarmed the international public by declaring that “there is no Palestinian history or culture, and no Palestinians at all.

The statement is particularly sensitive because in the "most right-wing government in the history of Israel" Minister Bezalel Smotrich is also in charge of managing Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. Smotrich is included in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet because of the support of his religious-nationalist party.

– Is there a Palestinian history or culture? They don't exist. There is no such thing as a Palestinian people - said Smotrich on Sunday during a visit to France.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayeh strongly condemned Smotrich's statement, evaluating it as hate speech and open incitement to violence.

Smotrich insulted his Arab neighbors even more, speaking from a podium on which was displayed a map of Israel with expanded borders, which include the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, as well as the Kingdom of Jordan, which in 1994 was the second Arab country to made peace and recognized Israel.

The Jordanian authorities urgently summoned the Israeli ambassador to express an official protest.

- It is irresponsible and provocative behavior with which the minister violated international norms and violated the Jordanian-Israeli peace agreement. Such extremist behavior pushes for escalation - said Sinan al-Majali, a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Jordan.

The corresponding Israeli ministry reacted on its Twitter account, but did not condemn Smotrich's gesture.

- Israel is committed to the peace agreement with Jordan since 1994. There is no change in the position of the State of Israel, which recognizes the territorial integrity of the Hashemite Kingdom - the Ministry announced.

The European Union condemned Smottrich's statement as "dangerous and counterproductive", and US National Security Representative John Kirby assessed that the US "does not want to see any rhetoric that would stand in the way of a two-state peace solution".

Smotrich's statement rattled the Arab public at a sensitive time of heated clashes between Jewish settlers and Palestinian militants. After a Palestinian gunman killed two Jewish settlers near the city of Huwara in February, the settlers retaliated by burning Palestinian homes and cars, killing one Palestinian. Smotrich then said that "Huvara should be wiped out". The minister later explained that he had expressed himself badly, but did not apologize.

Two days after Smotrich's speech, Knesset lawmakers overturned a law to evacuate four Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank since 2005, when the Israeli army withdrew and Jewish settlers were evacuated from the other Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip. By overturning the law, Jewish settlers could return to abandoned areas of the West Bank and further deepen a crisis that has emerged since the new government announced a controversial judicial reform plan in January and amid the worst clashes between the two nations in recent years. years.

The international community, including Israel's closest ally, the United States, considers Jewish settlements illegal and opposes the construction of the occupied territories, which the Palestinians claim and intend to establish an independent state there.

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