ISTANBUL (AA) – Saudi Arabia on Tuesday condemned statements by Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich in which he denied the existence of the Palestinian people.
In a statement, the Saudi Foreign Ministry termed Smotrich’s statements as “racist, false and promote a discourse of hate and violence and harm efforts to achieve peace.”
The kingdom reiterated support for international efforts aimed at solving the Palestinian cause on the basis of the Arab peace initiative and the establishment of a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 border, including East Jerusalem as its capital.
The 2002 Saudi-proposed Arab Initiative calls for normalizing relations with Israel in return for withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967.
In a speech in Paris on Sunday, Smotrich denied the existence of the Palestinian people, saying the Palestinians were "an invention" from the last century and that 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,” he said.
His statements have drawn a storm of condemnations from around the world, including the EU, Jordan, Egypt and France.
Last month, Smotrich triggered a storm of international condemnations after he said the Palestinian town of Huwara in the West Bank should be "wiped out” following the death of two settlers in a shooting attack.
The town was attacked by Israeli settlers during which a Palestinian was killed and several homes and vehicles were vandalized.
*Writing by Ahmed Asmar