Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich made remarks where he denied the Palestinian peoplehood to delegitimize their claim to Palestine on March 20. He claimed that he was a true Palestinian and to be a 13th generation Jerusalemite despite the fact that his own ancestors were in Ukraine far sooner than that. He made the remarks in Paris for a gathering of far-right Zionists who were commemorating the death of a Likud activist in 2021.
According to Al Jazeera, “Smotrich is well-known for making inflammatory statements against Palestinians, as well as Palestinian citizens of Israel, and is a staunch opponent of the establishment of a Palestinian state.On March 1, he triggered international outrage by saying the Palestinian village of Huwara in the West Bank should be wiped out following a rampage by Israeli settlers. These comments were slammed as “repugnant” and “disgusting by the United States Department of State and prompted the French government to boycott him during his visit to Paris.”
He also said that Palestinians have only existed for 100 years as a way to deny Jews their rightful claim to the land of israel. These remarks were widely condemned as racist by allies and opponents of Israel alike.
According to Palestinian officials, Smotrich’s remarks are evidence of the racist nature of Israeli policy against Palestinians. These come as Israel is further entrenching its illegal occupation of the WEst Bank and engaging in repeated deadly raids. Additionally Smotrich had made remarks supporting of the destruction of a Palestinian village after settlers went on a murderous rampage against it. Even allies of Israel like Jordan condemned the remarks. This was also provoked by Smotrich standing next to a map that showed JOrdan as under Israeli control.
According to Al Jazeera, “A Jordanian official told Reuters news agency on Tuesday that Israel had reassured the kingdom that Smotrich’s behaviour, which included standing at a podium adorned with a map of an Israeli flag that included Jordan and the Palestinian territories, did not represent its position. On Monday, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said he had been told by Israel’s national security adviser that Israel respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbour.”
Jordan established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1994. Additionally Smotrich was not welcomed by any French government officials despite the country generally having good relations with Israel. Additionally, despite the normalization, Israel still occupies Palestinian territory in the West Bank.