Israeli Finance Minister Denies Existence of Palestinians, Sparking Outrage

Israeli Finance Minister Denies Existence of Palestinians, Sparking Outrage

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Israeli finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, sparked outrage once again after claiming that the Palestinian people are "an invention" of the past century, prompting Palestinian officials to denounce his comments as evidence of the Israeli far-right cabinet’s racist outlook.

Smotrich, an ultranationalist who also oversees civilian administration in the occupied West Bank, made the remarks during a memorial for Jacques Kupfer, an activist for Israel's right-wing Likud party who died in 2021.

In Paris on Sunday, Smotrich claimed that "there is no such thing as the Palestinian people," adding that he himself is "Palestinian," referring to his late grandfather, who he said was a "13th generation Jerusalemite" and "the true Palestinian."

This is the second major controversy that Smotrich, well-known for his hardline Zionist stance and repeated anti-Palestinian remarks, has ignited this month.

Smotrich triggered international outrage on March 1 by calling for the Palestinian village of Huwara in the West Bank to be "wiped out" following a rampage by Israeli settlers.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh condemned Smotrich's latest remarks, saying they were conclusive evidence of the extremist, racist, Zionist ideology that governs the current Israeli cabinet.

“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,” Shtayyeh said at a PA cabinet session in Ramallah, “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 human and human history.”

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