Israel rejects Smotrich's flag display following Jordanian outrage

Israel rejects Smotrich's flag display following Jordanian outrage
Israel has officially rejected a controversial move by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich who made a speech displaying a flag which included Jordan, following outrage in Amman.
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Bezalel Smotrich displayed a map of Israel including Jordanian territory [source: Getty]

Jordan said it has received assurance from Israel that the behaviour of extremist Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who spoke at a podium adorned with an Israeli flag that appeared to include Jordan, did not represent their position, an official source said on Tuesday.

The source told Reuters that top Israeli officials rejected Smotrich's move during a speech on Monday, and said that they respected Jordan's borders and Israel's peace treaty with Jordan. Smotrich heads the far-right Religious Zionism party in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hard-right coalition.

Amman late on Monday summoned the Israeli ambassador in Jordan and said Smotrich's move was a provocative act by an "extremist" and "racist" minister that violated international norms and Jordan's peace treaty with Israel.

"These statements are provocative, racist and come from an extremist figure and we call on the international community to condemn it," Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said at a news conference.

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Both Jordan and the Palestinian Authority also condemned statements by Smotrich in which he claimed that there was "no Palestinian people".

Safadi received a call from Israel's national security advisor, assuring him that Israel - which shares the longest border with its neighbour to the west of the Jordan River - respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, the source said.

Smotrich made the speech as Israeli and Palestinian officials met in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for de-escalation talks ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish Passover holiday.