Jerusalem, MINA – An Israeli minister in charge of the administration of the occupied West Bank drew criticism on Monday
The criticism came after he said there is no Palestinian history or culture, and there is no such thing as a Palestinian people.
Israel’s Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, who sparked global outrage earlier this month when he called for the Palestinian city to be “wiped out”, made the remarks on Sunday in a conference address during a visit to France.
“Is there any Palestinian history or culture? Nothing,” he said in a recording of the speech which was widely shared on social media. “There is no such thing as a Palestinian,” he said, as quoted from Sindonews.
As he spoke, Smotrich stood at a podium covered in a variation of the Israeli flag that denotes the state of Israel with expanded borders that include the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and Jordan.
A spokesman for Smotrich, in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition of right-wing parties, said the flag was decorated by the organizers of the conference and that the minister was a guest.
Smotrich was addressing the same day Israeli and Palestinian officials met in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for de-escalation talks ahead of the holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish holiday of Passover.
Israeli Products Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh condemned Smotrich’s statement, saying that it was incitement to violence.
A separate statement by the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, that, by denying the existence of the Palestinian people and their legitimate national rights in their homeland, Israeli leaders “cultivate an environment that fuels Jewish extremism and terrorism against our people”.
The West Bank has seen a wave of confrontation over the past year, with almost daily Israeli military raids and increasing violence by Jewish settlers, amid a spate of attacks by Palestinians.
Over the past year, Israeli forces have killed more than 250 Palestinians, including fighters and civilians, while more than 40 Israelis and foreigners have been killed in Palestinian attacks. (T/RE1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)