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Morocco slams Smotrich after 'no Palestinian people' slur

Morocco latest to slam Israel minister Smotrich after 'no Palestinian people' slur
2 min read
24 March, 2023
Morocco's comment comes after Israeli minister Bezalel Smotrich claimed there 'isn't a Palestinian people' on Sunday.
Bezalel Smotrich is in charge of Area C of the occupied West Bank, where Israel maintains full control [GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP/Getty-file photo]

Morocco became the latest country to slam far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich after he claimed there "isn't a Palestinian people" last week.

Smotrich - who is also in charge of Area C of the occupied West Bank, where Israel maintains full control - spoke on Sunday from a lectern that displayed a map showing Palestine and Jordan as part of Israel.

There he denied the existence of the Palestinian people, shocking even Arab nations who have recently normalised ties with Israel.

Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said Rabat "always rejects any irresponsible behaviour and any behaviour that could be inciting or have a negative effect", Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

Smotrich made his Sunday remarks in Paris, claiming: "There are no Palestinians because there isn't a Palestinian people."

Smotrich evoked biblical "prophecies" that are "beginning to come true".

"After 2,000 years... God is gathering his people. The people of Israel are returning home," he said.

"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.

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Egypt condemned on Monday the "inflammatory and unacceptable" remarks.

Jordan's parliament voted to expel the Israeli ambassador over the Palestinians' comment and the map on Smotrich's lectern, forcing the Israeli foreign ministry later to clarify it was committed to peace with Amman.

The Palestinian foreign ministry said it will ask the International Criminal Court to "immediately issue an arrest warrant against this racist terrorist who violated all rules by his statements".

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France and the US also condemned the remarks which reflect deep-seated sentiments in the Israeli far-right.

In a 2017 document, named "Israel's Decisive Plan", Smotrich said: "There is only room for one expression of national self-determination west of the Jordan River: that of the Jewish nation".

He argued that "any solution must be based on cutting off the ambition to realise the Arab national hope between the Jordan [River] and the Mediterranean".

In late December, the far-right coalition government Smotrich belongs to came to power in Israel, with its guiding principles saying: "The Jewish people have an exclusive and inalienable right to all parts of the Land of Israel."

Earlier this month, Smotrich called for the Palestinian town of Hawara to be "wiped out" – though later backtracked. The comment followed a settler attack that killed a Palestinian after two Israelis were shot dead there.

Agencies contributed to this report.