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France officials will not meet with Israel's far-right finance minister Smotrich

Bezalel Smotrich, Israeli far-right lawmaker and leader of the Religious Zionist Party [GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images]
Bezalel Smotrich [GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images]

Extremist Israeli Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, will struggle to arrange meetings with senior French officials during his planned visit to Paris next month, Israeli media has warned, saying this is a result of his denial of the existence of the Palestinian people during his visit to Paris two months ago.

Smotrich is expected to visit Paris to attend the Finance Ministers conference of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. However, his office has been unable to arrange additional meetings for him, whether with his French counterpart or with any of the senior officials in the Paris municipality.

The annual meeting of the Finance Ministers of the OECD countries will be held at its headquarters in Paris on 7-8 June, with the participation of 38 developed countries that collectively represent 60 per cent of the global gross domestic product. The Israeli occupation state became an OECD member in 2010.

Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported: "This French boycott comes after reactions caused by a private visit by Smotrich to Paris two months ago … A map of the 'Greater Israel', which includes Jordanian territory, was displayed on his platform. In his speech, he declared that 'there is no such thing named a Palestinian people, and this truth must be heard in the Élysée Palace and the White House'. The official French response was not delayed, as the Foreign Ministry has described his words as 'outrageous and irresponsible and the expanded map of Israel as 'provocative'."

It continued, "Only a week later, official French sources explained that France is avoiding holding meetings with ministers Itamar Ben-Gvir and Smotrich. On 9 May, representatives of the European Union (EU) cancelled the official celebration of 'Europe Day' in Israel after the selection of Ben-Gvir to represent his government in it, and the EU embassy in Tel Aviv announced that we are not interested in providing any platform for those whose positions conflict with EU values."

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