By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ISTANBUL (AA) – China on Wednesday slammed Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s denial of the existence of the Palestinian people, calling it “irresponsible.”
“The Israeli senior official is wrong and irresponsible to deny Palestinian people’s existence and to display an ‘Israel map’ including Jordan and Palestinian places occupied by Israel at an event in Paris,” said Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry.
In a speech Sunday in Paris, Smotrich denied the existence of the Palestinian people, saying the Palestinians were “an invention” from the last century and people like himself and his grandparents were the “real Palestinians.”
“There is no such thing as Palestinians because there is no such thing as a Palestinian people,” said Smotrich, triggering sharp reactions from Palestinians, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the US, France, and now China.
“Such act may escalate Palestine-Israel tensions,” said Wang, according to daily Global Times.
Palestine said it will demand the International Criminal Court (ICC) to arrest Smotrich over his denial of the existence of the Palestinian people.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry termed Smotrich’s remarks as “irresponsible” and “inflammatory.”
“We will request the ICC to immediately issue an arrest warrant against this racist terrorist who violated all rules by his statements,” the ministry said Tuesday.
Washington sharply rebuked Tuesday Smotrich’s denial of the existence of the Palestinian people, saying that in addition to them being “inaccurate,” they are “dangerous.”
“The Palestinians have a rich history and culture, and the United States greatly values our partnership with the Palestinian people,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.
The minister delivered the incendiary comments from a podium adorned with a map with a picture of “greater Israel,” which included occupied Palestinian territories and Jordan.
Amman sharply rebuked Smotrich for using the image, saying it is a violation of the peace agreement between Israel and Jordan.
Addressing the image, Patel said the map is “inaccurate and provocative.”