Israel seeks to calm waters with Jordan after ‘racist, extremist’ speech by Smotrich


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared on Monday that it respects Jordan’s territorial integrity, after Amman hit out at Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich for giving a speech in Paris over the weekend in which he claimed the people of Jordan were an “invention”. Palestine, standing behind a map of “Greater”. Israel” including present day Jordan.

“Israel is committed to the 1994 peace agreement with Jordan. The position of the State of Israel, which recognizes the territorial integrity of the Hashemite Kingdom, has not changed,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement issued in English and Hebrew in an apparent attempt to prevent a diplomatic incident in the east. neighbor

Hours earlier, Jordan’s foreign ministry called Smotrich’s appearance in Paris “reckless provocation and a violation of international norms and the Jordanian Peace Treaty.”

“The racist and extremist inflammatory statements made by the extremist Israeli minister against the brotherly Palestinian people, their right to exist, and their historic right to an independent and sovereign state on the national land of Palestine,” Amman said, calling to criticize the Israeli government. Smotrich’s statements. He warned that Jordan will take “all necessary political and legal measures to address such extremist actions and statements.”

“Smotrich’s behavior constitutes a dangerous escalation that threatens security and stability,” Jordan’s foreign ministry said.

Speaking in Paris at a private memorial service on Sunday for a prominent right-wing Likud activist, Smotrich claimed that the Palestinian people were an “invention” from the last century and that people like him and his grandparents were “real Palestine”.

Smotrich said there was “no such thing as the Palestinians because there is no such thing as the Palestinian people,” a statement that drew applause and cheers from attendees in footage posted online.

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

Smotrich spoke from a podium holding a map of “Greater Israel,” which included the territory of present-day Jordan, according to the aspirations of the early Zionist groups.

“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.

State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel was asked about the minister’s remarks during a press briefing on Monday. “Of course we would be concerned with that kind of report, or that kind of language being used,” he replied.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said earlier Monday that Smotrich’s statements are further evidence of what he called the “racist ideology” ruling Israel.

The Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Mohammad Shtayyeh, welcomes the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 14, 2022. (Flash90)

Smotrich has a history of making inflammatory statements against Palestinians, Arab citizens of Israel, non-Orthodox Jews, and the LGBTQ community.

Earlier this month, the minister – a senior figure in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline coalition – sparked international outrage with a call to “destroy” a Palestinian town in the West Bank following a deadly Palestinian terror attack that killed two Israeli brothers. He later walked back the comment and apologized.

His comments on Sunday came hours after Israeli and PA delegations met for a rare regional summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where they again pledged to de-escalate tensions, days before the start of the Muslim holy month Ramadan. They also agreed to combat incitement to violence.

A spokesman for Egypt’s foreign ministry said Monday that Smotrich’s “inflammatory and unacceptable” comments undermined the regional effort at Sharm el-Sheikh to restore calm.

Cairo called Smotrich’s comments racist and said they “reject the facts of history and geography, while fueling feelings of anger among the Palestinian people and other people of the free world.”

Hadash-Ta’al MK Ahmad Tibi also joined the chorus of criticism on Monday. “Forever, you can save those stories on your grandmeizer” he tweeted, in a swipe at Smotrich’s English, delivering the finance minister’s speech last week in Washington at the widely derided Israel Bonds conference. The finance minister chose to speak in Hebrew on Sunday in Paris and used a translator.

Lazar Berman contributed to this report

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