During an event held in the French capital of Paris on Sunday, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who also heads the Religious Zionist Party, said “there’s no such thing as Palestinians because there’s no such thing as a Palestinian people”.
He made the remarks on a stage that featured a map of “Greater Israel” that included the territory of modern-day Jordan and the occupied Palestinian territories in accordance with hardline aspirations by some early Zionist groups.
His remarks drew flak from several Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Egypt.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s condemnation and denunciation of the offensive and racist statements issued by an official at the Israeli occupation government against the State of #Palestine and its brotherly people,” Saudi foreign minister tweeted.
Lebanon foreign ministry tweeted, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates condemns the racist statements recently issued by the Israeli Minister of Finance and his denial of the existence of the Palestinian people and the sovereignty and independence of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
“The Ministry calls on the international community to take deterrent measures and reject deliberately provocative statements aimed at undermining a peaceful solution,” it added.
Jordan foreign ministry on Monday summoned the Israeli Ambassador in Amman to protest Smotrich’s “provocative acts”.
The ministry affirmed “the Jordanian government’s condemnation of the racist, inciting and extremist statements towards the brotherly Palestinian people, their right to exist, and their historical rights in their independent state.”
The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday announced that it would demand the International Criminal Court to arrest Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, in response to statements in which he said that “there is no such thing as a Palestinian people.”
The ministry said, “We are following with utmost interest the irresponsible and inflammatory statements of the hateful and racist terrorist minister, stemming from hatred, terrorism, hatred, and the claim of racial superiority of the Jews, at the expense of the rest of the world’s peoples, particularly the Palestinian people.”
“We will ask the International Criminal Court to move immediately to issue arrest warrants against this racist terrorist who violated all laws and committed, with his statements, what deserves a decision to arrest him immediately,” it added.
The UAE foreign ministry on Tuesday affirmed that, “the UAE’s rejection of incitement rhetoric and all practices that contradict moral and human values and principles.”
“A statement of condemnation and denunciation of the State of Kuwait for the racist and provocative statements made by an official of the Israeli occupation government, towards the brotherly Palestinian people and the borders of the brotherly Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” Kuwait’s foreign ministry tweeted on Wednesday.
Qatar on Tuesday strongly condemns the Israeli Finance Minister’s denial of Palestinians’ existence, using an Israeli map containing Jordanian borders, and occupied Palestinian territories.
Egypt’s ministry of foreign affairs spokesperson tweeted on Monday, “The statements of the Israeli Minister of Finance regarding the denial of the existence of the Palestinian people are inflammatory and unacceptable because they carry racist gestures that deny the facts of history and geography, and fuel feelings of anger and congestion among the masses of the Palestinian people, and even the peoples of the free world and those with living consciences around the world.
The Israeli minister’s remarks came after a five-way meeting hosted by the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh and included Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Palestine and the United States, and ended with announcing “the need to achieve calm on the ground and prevent further violence.”
These developments come at a time when tensions have escalated sharply across the occupied West Bank in recent months, amid repeated Israeli military raids on Palestinian towns.
About 90 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the beginning of 2023, according to Palestinian data, while 14 Israelis were killed in separate attacks during the same period.