Americans for Peace Now (APN) strongly condemns comments by Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who in a speech in France absurdly asserted that “there’s no such thing as Palestinians because there’s no such thing as a Palestinian people.” APN calls on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to condemn Smotrich’s outrageous statement and urges the Biden administration to do the same.
Smotrich said that there is no such thing as a Palestinian people, Palestinian culture or Palestinian history, and added that this “truth” should be heard “at the Elysee Palace and the White House." To make things worse, Smotrich’s lectern carried a schematic map of so-called “Greater Israel,” which included the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Smotrich’s speech triggered justifiable fury among both Palestinians and Jordanians, including a statement by the Jordanian Foreign Ministry, noting that the map constitutes a violation of Jordan’s US-brokered peace agreement with Israel.
APN’s President and CEO Hadar Susskind said: “Smotrich’s speech is enraging on so many levels that it’s hard to know where to start. In addition to his comments being utterly ignorant, his assertion is damaging to both Israel’s and the United States’ national security interests. As Smotrich was speaking in France, Israel and the United States, together with the governments of the Palestinians, Jordan and Egypt, signed a memorandum in Sharm al-Sheikh in which the governments of Israel and the Palestinians reaffirmed ‘their unwavering commitment to all previous agreements between them.’ This includes the Oslo Agreements in which Israel recognized the PLO as ‘the representative of the Palestinian people.’ Smotrich’s comments are a flagrant violation of the very memorandum that his government signed as he was speaking. Smotrich made his inflammatory, provocative statement as his government signed an agreement vowing to prevent further Israeli-Palestinian violent escalation. To make matters worse, he chose to speak with a map of greater Israel at his lectern, provoking not only the Palestinians but also the Jordanians. In conversations with the Biden administration, Netanyahu recently promised that he will not allow pyromaniacal zealots such as Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir to set the agenda and the tone for his government. Clearly, he is not keeping his promise. The Biden administration should call him on it.”