Arab, Muslim Worlds Condemn Israeli Minister’s Racist Remarks against Palestinians

Palestinian Muslims gather at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound for Friday Noon prayer in Jerusalem on February 24, 2023. (AFP)
Palestinian Muslims gather at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound for Friday Noon prayer in Jerusalem on February 24, 2023. (AFP)
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Arab, Muslim Worlds Condemn Israeli Minister’s Racist Remarks against Palestinians

Palestinian Muslims gather at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound for Friday Noon prayer in Jerusalem on February 24, 2023. (AFP)
Palestinian Muslims gather at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound for Friday Noon prayer in Jerusalem on February 24, 2023. (AFP)

The appearance of Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at a podium adorned with an Israeli flag that included all of Jordan and the Palestinian territories was widely condemned by the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Smotrich, who heads a religious-nationalist party in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hard-right coalition, said on Sunday there was "no such thing as a Palestinian people," or Palestinian history or culture.

Saudi Arabia condemned on Tuesday the minister's offensive and racist remarks.

The Foreign Ministry underscored the Kingdom's rejection of such baseless statements that only stoke hatred and violence and undermine international efforts for peace and dialogue.

It reiterated Riyadh's support for all international efforts aimed at resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict according to the 2002 Arab peace initiative and that secures the establishment of a Palestinian state according to 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi decried on Tuesday the minister's comments as "racist".

Amman late on Monday summoned the Israeli ambassador in Jordan and said Smotrich's move was a provocative act by an "extremist" and "racist" minister that violated international norms and Jordan's peace treaty with Israel.

An official source told Reuters on Tuesday that Amman had received assurances from Israel that Smotrich's statements did not represent Israel's position.

"These statements are provocative, racist and come from an extremist figure and we call on the international community to condemn it," Safadi said at a news conference.

"These remarks will not undermine Jordan, the rights of Palestinians or the rise of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital," he added.

"We will not be deterred by a racist and extremist person, who had previously called for erasing Hawara off the map. We are a nation that will not be deterred by a person who is known to the world for being racist," he went on to say.

Furthermore, the FM warned against any possible escalation in the Palestinian territories with the advent of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which begins on Thursday.

He stressed that Amman will do all that is required to not only protect its interests and stances, but protect and support the interests of the brotherly Palestinian people.

He also highlighted the intense efforts exerted by Jordan and Egypt, in coordination with the United States and Palestinian Authority, to put a stop to Israel's illegal unilateral measures.

Smotrich made the speech as Israeli and Palestinian officials met in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for de-escalation talks ahead of Ramadan.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation strongly condemned Smotrich's "racist" remarks, saying they were an "extension of Israel's false claims and ideology on which it had established its state."

It is this ideology that Israel uses to continue its "ethnic cleansing, forced displacement, settlement expansion and killing and oppression of Palestinians, confiscation of their territories and denial of their legitimate national rights."

The Arab League also condemned Smotrich's statements, saying they are "desperate remarks by a fascist minister".

The statements "will not undermine the existence of Jordan or the Palestinian people, their rights and identity."

Moreover, it said the minister's remarks were a "flagrant threat to regional and international security and peace and an act of defiance of the international community, its treaties, laws and norms."

It warned that the statements also undermine the latest regional and international efforts to de-escalate tensions and revive the peace process.

The United Arab Emirates condemned Smotrich's statements, underlining its rejection of inciteful rhetoric and all practices that contradict moral and human values and principles.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) 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.

Qatar slammed Smotrich's statements, saying they were the latest evidence of the Israeli government's racism and an attempt to falsify history and deny the Palestinian people's right to exist.

It stressed that such extremist statements and unfounded claims violate human values.



UN Palestinian Agency Seeks Pushback against Israel's Effort to Disband it 

A Palestinian child navigates through heavy damage to a UNRWA school sheltering displaced persons the day after a nearby house was targeted by Israeli bombardment in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Friday, June 21, 2024. (AP)
A Palestinian child navigates through heavy damage to a UNRWA school sheltering displaced persons the day after a nearby house was targeted by Israeli bombardment in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Friday, June 21, 2024. (AP)
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UN Palestinian Agency Seeks Pushback against Israel's Effort to Disband it 

A Palestinian child navigates through heavy damage to a UNRWA school sheltering displaced persons the day after a nearby house was targeted by Israeli bombardment in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Friday, June 21, 2024. (AP)
A Palestinian child navigates through heavy damage to a UNRWA school sheltering displaced persons the day after a nearby house was targeted by Israeli bombardment in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Friday, June 21, 2024. (AP)

The head of the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) on Monday called to push back against efforts by Israel to have the organization disbanded.

"Israel has long been critical of the agency's mandate. But it now seeks to end UNRWA's operations, dismissing the agency's status as a United Nations entity supported by an overwhelming majority of Member States," UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said at a meeting of the agency's advisory commission.

"If we do not push back, other UN entities and international organizations will be next, further undermining our multilateral system."