Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich claimed yesterday that there is “no such thing as Palestinians” and that they are a fictitious nation invented only to fight the Zionist movement.
Speaking at a memorial service for the late Likud activist Jacques Kupfer in the French capital Paris, he said: “Do you know who the Palestinians are? I am Palestinian.”
There’s “no such thing as Palestinians because there’s no such thing as the Palestinian people,” he added. “This truth should be heard at the Elysee Palace and the White House.”
According to Haaretz, Smotrich’s appearance at the event was initially sponsored by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), however, the JNF withdrew its sponsorship and the organisation’s logo from publication due to his participation.
The Palestinians, Smotrich said, are regional Arabs who arrived in the land of Israel at the same time as the first major waves of immigration at the end of the 19th century.
“What happened? They created a fictional nation and then worked for their fictitious rights to the Land of Israel to battle against the Zionist movement. That is the historical truth and the biblical truth. That is the truth and there is no alternative,” Smotrich said.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh this morning condemned Smotrich’s latest remarks as “conclusive evidence of the extremist, racist, Zionist ideology that governs the current Israeli government.”
“These inflammatory statements, which are consistent with the first Zionist claims of ‘a land without a people for a people without a land’, and that Palestinian lands are ‘disputed’, and which demonstrate the arrogance of power, do not shake our belonging to our land and history, and that all archaeological remnants and history prove the attachment of the Palestinian to his land since the dawn of humans and human history,” Shtayyeh told a government meeting in Ramallah.
The comments follow remarks made by the Israeli minister last month calling for the Palestinian village of Huwara to be “wiped out“.
Following the remarks, the French Foreign Ministry announced last week that government representatives in Paris did not intend to meet with Smotrich during his visit to the country.