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Israel officials fear Smotrich’s Palestine statements could damage ties with Egypt, Jordan

March 22, 2023 at 8:34 pm

Bezalel Smotrich [Atbannett/Wikipedia]

Israeli security officials are reportedly concerned that controversial statements made by Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, could damage ties with Egypt and Jordan.

On Sunday, Smotrich, leader of the Religious Zionism political alliance, said during a conference held in Paris that “there was no such thing as Palestinian people”.  During the conference he spoke at a podium adorned with the map of the so-called “Greater Israel” which included mandatory Palestine, Jordan, areas of Syria, Lebanon and even Saudi Arabia.

On Tuesday, the Kan broadcasting corporation reported that the Israeli security apparatus is concerned that Smotrich’s words could affect security coordination between Israel, Jordan and Egypt ahead of the month of Ramadan.

According to the Kan report, Smotrich’s statement could harm ties with Jordan, which is of great importance to Israel, and affect security understandings concluded in security meetings held in Aqaba and Sharm El-Sheikh this month, as well as harm ties with Egypt which leads mediation talks with the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas.

READ: Jordan has to prepare for real confrontation with Israel, says former minister

Smotrich is a strong opponent of the peace agreement that Tel Aviv signed with Cairo in 1979. He also believes that former Israeli Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, made a mistake when he signed the agreement with Egypt and gave up Sinai.

Following Smotrich’s statements, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry summoned the Israeli Ambassador in Amman to protest his words. Other countries, including the United States, France, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have strongly condemned his remarks.