Arab countries condemn Israel minister’s remarks

Mohamed Hafez , Tuesday 21 Mar 2023

Bezalel Smotrich, the Israeli finance minister, sparked outrage in the Arab world after saying in a speech on Sunday in Paris that the Palestinian people, their past and their language are all made up.

Ayman Safadi
File Photo: Jordan s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi delivers his speech during a United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA, conference, in Rome, March 15, 2018. AP


The podium from which the Israeli minister gave a speech was covered with what appeared to be a picture of a map of Israel, including the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan.

Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, in a press conference on Tuesday, denounced the statements as "inciting and racist," and he urged Israel to make it clear that they did not reflect the stance of the nation.

In reaction to the incident, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry summoned the Israeli ambassador to Amman and described the minister's activities as "an incitement and reckless act," a breach of both international law and the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty.

Israel's Foreign Ministry on Monday evening released a statement affirming that it is committed to the countries' 1994 peace agreement.

“There has been no change in the position of the State of Israel, which recognises the territorial integrity of the Hashemite Kingdom,” the statement said.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said Smotrich's remarks were “conclusive evidence of the extremist, racist Zionist ideology that governs the parties of the current Israeli government.”

Meanwhile, the Saudi Foreign Ministry denounced the comments as "contrary to the truth" in a statement published on Tuesday, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

"It also highlights the growing gap between Israel and its Arab neighbors, who see the Jewish state's actions as a significant threat to peace and stability in the region," the ministry said.

Moreover, the Arab League's legislative body, in response to the comments, has urged the UN and the international community to hold those responsible for their racist comments accountable, according to SPA.

The UAE has also denounced Smotrich's remarks and his use of the map that incorporates territory from Jordan and the occupied Palestinian areas.

A far-right settler leader who opposes Palestinian statehood, Smotrich has a history of offensive statements against the Palestinians. Last month, he called for the Palestinian town of Hawara in the West Bank to be “erased” after radical Jewish settlers rampaged through the town in response to a shooting attack that killed two Israelis. Smotrich later apologised after an international uproar.

His remarks come at the same time as Palestinian and Israeli high-level officials reaffirmed a commitment to de-escalate and prevent further violence in a meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh attended by officials from Egypt, Jordan, and the United States.

The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediatly denounced the Israeli minister's remarks, saying that such statements provoke the anger not only of Palestinians but also of the people of the free world and anyone with a conscience.

“Egypt totally rejects these irresponsible and inflammatory statements that carry racist implications and deny historical and geographical truths,” the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.

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