PARIS: France on Tuesday described as “irresponsible” a firebrand Israeli minister’s remarks denying the existence of the Palestinian people.
“We call on persons who have been called to high office within the Israeli government to show the required dignity, to respect that of others, and to refrain from all action or declaration that could contribute to the escalation of tensions,” the foreign ministry said.
Israel’s far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich made the comments on Sunday in Paris, on a trip during which he met no French government officials. “There are no Palestinians, because there isn’t a Palestinian people,” Smotrich said.
Evoking biblical “prophecies” that are “beginning to come true”, the Israeli minister said: “After 2,000 years... God is gathering his people. The people of Israel are returning home.” “There are Arabs around who don’t like it, so what do they do? They invent a fictitious people and claim fictitious rights to the Land of Israel, only to fight the Zionist movement,” he said. The comments sparked condemnation from the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Jordan.