Israel’s Smotrich: ‘There’s no such thing as Palestinians’

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“There is no such thing as the Palestinians because there is no such thing as the Palestinian people,” Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich announced Sunday at a memorial service for the late Likud activist in Paris.

The far-right lawmaker said the Palestinian people were an “invention” in the 20th century to fight Zionism and that people like him and his grandparents were the “real Palestinians”.

‘Do you know who the Palestinians are? I’m Palestinian’

Bezalel Smotrich, Israeli minister

Speaking at a podium decorated with a map based on the insignia of the Zionist Irgun militia, which shows Israel across the West Bank and Jordan, Smotrich said the French and US governments needed to hear “this truth” about the Palestinians.

“Do you know who the Palestinians are?” said the leader of the ultra-nationalist Religious Zionism party. “I am Palestinian.”

Smotrich referred to his grandmother, who was born in the northern Israeli town of Metula more than a century ago, and his grandfather, who was a 13th-generation Jerusalemite.

Smotrich has previously stated that his surname is derived from the Ukrainian town of Smotrych, where he said his ancestors lived.

The idea that there is no such thing as Palestinians, and that Israeli Jews are truly Palestinians anyway, has been part of right-wing Israeli politics for a long time.

Smotrich’s appearance at the memorial for the late Likud activist Jacques Kupfer was to be sponsored by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), but the organization withdrew its support due to the minister’s appearance, Haaretz reported.

The French foreign ministry announced last week that government representatives in Paris did not intend to meet with Smotrich during his visit to the country.

Apart from being finance minister, Smotrich now has significant powers in the occupied West Bank, which human rights lawyers told MEE amounted to a “de jure annexation”.

At the end of February, the minister said that the state of Israel should “destroy” the Palestinian village of Huwwara, after Israeli settlers became violent.

Former Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has said that Smotrich, who has also called himself a “proud homophobe”, wants “another Nakba”.

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