Israeli Minister Sparks Controversy with Denial of Palestinian People

Israeli Minister Sparks Controversy with Denial of Palestinian People

In a recent speech at a conference in France, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich claimed that there is no Palestinian history or culture and denied the existence of Palestinian people. The remarks have drawn widespread condemnation, including from neighbouring Jordan, which has summoned the Israeli ambassador to protest.

Smotrich, who leads a religious-nationalist party in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, spoke at the conference on the same day Israeli and Palestinian officials met in Egypt for de-escalation talks. The comments have been described as “completely unhelpful” by the Deputy UN spokesman.

The controversy has raised concerns about the potential for incitement to violence and has been condemned by Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh. The remarks have also sparked outrage in Jordan, which has accused Smotrich of “irresponsible provocative behaviour” and a breach of international norms and the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty.

Despite the backlash, Smotrich has defended his comments, arguing that there is no evidence of a distinct Palestinian culture or history. The controversy underscores the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and the complex issues surrounding their relationship.

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