Far-right lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich declares himself, his family ‘real Palestinians’


Far-right lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich said on Sunday that the Palestinian people were an “invention” of the past century and that people like him and his grandparents were “true Palestinians”.

Speaking in Paris at a private memorial service for prominent right-wing Likud activist and Jewish Agency board member Jacques Kupfer, who died after a long battle with cancer in 2021, Smotrich said there was “no such thing as the Palestinians exists because there is no such thing. the people of Palestine,” a comment that received applause and cheers from the attendees, as seen in a video posted on Ynet from the event.

“Do you know who the Palestinians are?” asked the leader of the ultranationalist Religious Zionism party and Israel’s finance minister. “I am Palestinian,” he said, also referring to his grandmother who was born in northern Israel Metula 100 years ago, and his grandfather, a 13th generation Jerusalemite as the “true Palestinians”.

Smotrich has a long history of making inflammatory and outlandish statements against Palestinians, Arab citizens of Israel, non-Orthodox Jews, and the LGBTQ community including once declaring himself a “proud homophobe.” In 2021, he said David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s prime minister, should have finished “the job” and kicked all the Arabs out of the country when it was founded. Earlier that year, he said members of Israel’s minority Arab communities were citizens “at least until now.”

Last week, the minister – a senior figure in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line coalition – sparked international outrage after calling for a Palestinian town in the West Bank to be “destroyed” following a deadly Palestinian terror attack that killed two Israeli brothers. . He later retracted the comment and apologized.

Smotrich also serves as a minister in the Ministry of Defense with authority over the many responsibilities of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and the Civil Administration, the two agencies of the Ministry of Defense in charge of civilian affairs in Area C of the West Bank where Ta full security and civilian control by Israel. Area C comprises the 60 percent of West Bank territory where Israeli settlements are located and where Israel exercises military and administrative control over both the Israeli and Palestinian populations.

Smotrich, who is a staunch attacker of the establishment of a Palestinian state, sees control of the Civil Administration as a way to extend Israeli sovereignty to the West Bank, replacing the military administration of the territory with direct control of the central government and its ministries.

On Sunday, in remarks from Hebrew translated into French for the audience, Smotrich said “The Palestinian people were an invention less than 100 years ago.”

“Is there a Palestinian history or culture? Was not. There were Arabs in the Middle East who came to the Land of Israel at the same time as the immigration of the Jews and the beginning of Zionism. After 2,000 years of exile, the people of Israel were returning home, and Arabs were around [us] they don’t like it. So what do they do? They create a fake community in the Land of Israel and demand fake rights in the Land of Israel just to fight the Zionist movement.”

“This is the historical truth. This is the biblical truth. The Arabs in the Land of Israel need to hear this truth. This truth should be heard here in the Élysée Palace,” said Smotrich, referring to the official residence of French President Emanual Macron, whose government is not meeting Smotrich on this private trip to France.

“The Jews in the somewhat confused State of Israel should hear this truth. This truth needs to be heard in the White House in Washington. The whole world needs to hear this truth because it is the truth – and the truth will win,” Smotrich continued.

Turning to Israel’s Arab communities, the ultranationalist lawmaker demanded that they “stop throwing into the well [they] drinking from it.”

“The State of Israel is a miracle, the Israeli economy is a miracle. Contrary to the lies of the leaders of the [BDS] campaign that is spreading against us throughout the world, we are spreading it well to all the residents of the country, Jews and non-Jews. Look around, in all 22 [Muslim-majority] countries, is there another country [where people live] good life like that? A modern country with a developing economy, with freedom of religion, freedom of speech… There is no country like this in the world. Stop fighting the State of Israel and the people of Israel. You will lose and we will win because the Holy One, blessed be He, is with us,” said Smotrich.

The comments came hours after Israeli and Palestinian Authority delegations met on Sunday for a rare, albeit low-key, regional summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where they again vowed to de-escalate tensions. increase days before the start of the Muslim holy month. Ramadan.

The meeting, with accompanying delegations from the United States, Jordan and Egypt, was a follow-up to a similar meeting held in Aqaba, Jordan last month – the first such high-level confab of Israeli and Palestinian leaders in years recently The sides have agreed to meet for a third time next month.

During a visit to the United States last week, where he did not meet any US official from the Biden administration, Smotrich told American investors that he was sorry for calling to “destroy” the Palestinian town of Huwara and promised “all to protect innocent life, Jewish or Arab,” even as hundreds of American Jews and Israeli veterans protested his appearance outside. Some called for Smotrich to be denied a US visa because of the comment.

Smotrich spoke to about 150 leaders in the Israel Bonds organization at a gala dinner, seeking to bolster continued support for the Israeli economy despite reports that investment money is fleeing the country due to the turmoil surrounding the judicial reform plan. which is being pushed by the Netanyahu government.

Netanyahu was in Paris early last month to meet with Macron, who warned that without changes to his government’s far-reaching plans to reform the judicial system, “Paris should conclude that Israel has evolved from a concept the commons of democracy.”

Macron also pressed Netanyahu on escalating violence between Israel and the Palestinians, urging Israel to “avoid any measures that could fuel the spiral of violence,” the Palace said.

The French president also warned about Netanyahu’s efforts to expand the Abraham Accords. “If you continue what you are doing in Palestine, it will be difficult for Saudi Arabia to accept an agreement with you,” Macron said.

The prime minister said that he must give something to his coalition government in fixed terms, but that it would be less than what Smotrich and his fellow hard-right minister Itamar Ben Gvir wanted. Both of them are strongly against the establishment of any Palestinian state in the future.

Jacob Magid and Lazar Berman contributed to this report.

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