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The Israeli Finance Minister denies the Palestinians’ right to exist as a nation

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The Israeli finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, from the extreme right and anti-Arab movement, declared that ‘the Palestinian people do not exist’, this being, in his opinion, rather a concept invented less than 100 years ago and that the real Palestinians are the Jews who lived on the ‘land of Israel’ over 2000 years ago. ‘They are Arabs in the Middle East who arrived on the land of Israel at the same time as the return of the Zionist Jews began, after 2000 years of exile, which the Arabs in the region did not want. And what do they do then? They invent a fictitious people and claim fictitious rights over the land of Israel, just to fight against the Zionist movement’, the Israeli minister said on Sunday evening at an event in Paris.

“The truth must be told without bowing our heads to the lies and reversals of history by pro-Palestinian organizations and BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions, reduction of investments, and sanctions imposed on Israel),” he added in statements taken on Monday by Israeli press. Smotrich, a settler and leader of the far-right Religious Zionism party, said the real Palestinians are people like himself and his ancestors who lived on the land of Israel centuries ago, a statement consistent with the positions of the settlement movement that represents in the new government, along with other partners such as Itamar Ben Gvir, both known for their anti-Arab rhetoric and regarding the supremacy of the Jews. “My father was a 13th-generation native of Jerusalem, and my grandmother, who was born to Zionist pioneers 100 years ago in Metula, is Palestinian,” he said. After a controversial visit to the US, which American Jewish organizations tried to boycott and during which Joe Biden administration officials avoided meeting him because of his radical positions, Smotrich visited Paris on Sunday to attend an event in the memory of Jacques Kupfer, a French far-right activist. At this event, he stated that the Arabs have no historical rights to the ‘land of Israel’ — the territory that includes today’s Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories — as they came to the area to ‘stop the return of the Zionists.” These remarks occurred just two weeks after he said the Palestinian town of Huwara, vandalized by hundreds of violent settlers who torched cars and houses, should be wiped off the face of the earth. According to international law, a people are defined by their history, culture, language, currency, and leadership. Who was the first Palestinian king? What is the Palestinian language? Was there ever a Palestinian currency? Is there a Palestinian history or culture? No’, he insisted, denying the Palestinian national identity.

By Sara Colin

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