Abu Dhabi/Ramallah: The UAE has condemned statements by Israeli Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich in which he denied the existence of the Palestinian people.
The UAE also condemned his use of a map of Israel that includes lands from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the occupied Palestinian territories.
In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) affirmed the UAE’s rejection of inciteful rhetoric and all practices that contradict moral and human values and principles.
The Ministry stressed the need to confront hate speech and violence and noted the importance of promoting the values of tolerance and coexistence to reduce escalation and instability in the region.
The Ministry underscored the need to support all regional and international efforts to advance the Middle East Peace Process, end illegal practices that threaten the two-state solution and establish an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Smotrich already faced international rebuke
The Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Jordan also condemned the remarks denying the existence of the Palestinian people, with Amman summoning Israel’s ambassador for a rebuke.
Smotrich is part of veteran leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardright government that took office in December.
Smotrich had already faced international rebuke in early March after calling for a Palestinian town in the occupied West Bank to be “wiped out”, amid spiralling violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“There are no Palestinians, because there isn’t a Palestinian people,” he said on Sunday in Paris, quoting French-Israeli Zionist activist Jacques Kupfer at an event in his memory, according to a video circulating on social media.
Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said the “inflammatory statements” made by Smotrich provided “conclusive evidence of the extremist, racist Zionist ideology... of the current Israeli government”.
Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, dubbed the minister’s remarks “completely unhelpful”, stressing the Palestinian people “obviously” exists.
“We continue to support their rights and to push for a two-state solution,” Haq said.
The minister, who met no French government officials during his trip, was speaking from a lectern which featured a map of so-called Greater Israel, including the West Bank, annexed Golan Heights, blockaded Gaza Strip and Jordan - the neighbouring Arab country that signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967, when it also seized east Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights.
Smotrich’s comments came as Israeli and Palestinian representatives met in the Red Sea resort of Sharm Al Sheikh along with Egyptian, Jordanian and US officials for “extensive discussions on ways to de-escalate tensions,” according to a joint statement.
The Jordanian foreign ministry on Monday called the remarks “extremist racism” and warned his “use of a map... that encompasses the border of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan” may be in violation of the 1994 peace accord.
The Israeli foreign ministry tweeted shortly afterwards to clarify “Israel is committed to the 1994 peace agreement with Jordan” and “recognises the territorial integrity of the Hashemite Kingdom”, without mentioning the content of the speech.
In a following statement, the Jordanian ministry said it had summoned the Israeli ambassador to receive a “strongly worded letter of protest to convey to his government”.
Egypt, which in 1979 became the first Arab country to recognise and sign a peace treaty with Israel, condemned the “inflammatory and unacceptable” as well as “racist” remarks, Cairo’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Earlier on Monday, Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, another extreme right figure in cabinet, ordered the closure of an east Jerusalem office of West Bank-based public broadcaster Palestine.
He accused it of “incitement and supporting terror” and said it was not licensed to operate from the annexed territory.
Ahmad Assaf, head of the Palestinian broadcaster, condemned the move and told AFP it was a “crime against journalism”.