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Far-right Minister Smotrich: There’s No Such Thing as the Palestinians, White House Must Hear the Truth

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Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said on Sunday that “there’s no such thing as Palestinians because there’s no such thing as a Palestinian people,” while speaking in Paris.

Speaking at a memorial ceremony for the late Likud activist Jacques Kupfer, Smotrich claimed that the Palestinian people are a fictitious nation invented only to fight the Zionist movement, adding that “this truth should be heard at the Élysée Palace and the White House.”

“The argument that there is no Palestinian people should also be heard among Arabs in Israel and among ‘confused Jews,'” apparently referring to leftist voters, he added.

Smotrich spoke under a flag of the “Greater Land of Israel,” which shows Mandatory Palestine and Trans-Jordan. The flag design resembles that of Etzel or Irgun, a Jewish underground organization founded in 1931 by Haganah commanders who carried out armed reprisals against Arabs that were condemned by the Jewish Agency.

The finance minister also said that his grandparents are real Palestinians, and spoke of his family roots in the land. “Do you know who the Palestinians are?” Smotrich asked, while replying: “I am Palestinian. My late grandmother, who was born in [the northern Israeli town of] Metula more than a century ago to a family of pioneers who established all the settlements in the north, is Palestinian. My late grandfather, who was 13th generation Jerusalemite, is the true Palestinian.” Smotrich also said that the Palestinian people are “an invention” from less than a century ago.

Smotrich’s appearance at the event was meant to be sponsored by the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael), but the JNF had requested to remove its sponsorship and the organization’s logo from publication due to his participation. The French foreign ministry had announced last week that government representatives in Paris did not intend to meet with the finance minister during his visit to the country.

As the Palestinian government met on Monday morning, Palestinian prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh declared: “Bezalel Smotrich’s statement that the Palestinian people do not exist and that they were created in the last century is conclusive evidence that the Israeli government is dominated by extreme Zionism.”

Smotrich spoke at an Israel Bonds event in Washington D.C. last Monday, with Biden administration officials not attending. Hundreds of protesters from various segments of the American-Jewish and Israeli expat community demonstrated against Smotrich outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, where the far-right minister was attending the conference.

Smotrich’s speech in D.C. took place following the finance minister’s widely condemned remarks, during which he called to “wipe out” the Palestinian village of Hawara after a deadly riot by settlers.

“I want to say a few words about the elephant in the room,” Smotrich said during the Israel Bonds event, to “repeat now with sincere regret, [that] my comments about Hawara created a completely mistaken impression.”

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Article source: Haaretz | Jonathan Lis & Jack Khoury | 20.3.23

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000