Does Israeli Minister's Anti-Palestinian Statement Undermine Sharm el-Sheikh Understandings?

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich speaks at a news conference in Jerusalem (Reuters)
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich speaks at a news conference in Jerusalem (Reuters)
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Does Israeli Minister's Anti-Palestinian Statement Undermine Sharm el-Sheikh Understandings?

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich speaks at a news conference in Jerusalem (Reuters)
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich speaks at a news conference in Jerusalem (Reuters)

Egypt denounced the recent “inflammatory” statements of Israel's far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich on the Palestinian people, saying they undermined peace efforts.

Last Sunday, Egyptian, Jordanian, Israeli, Palestinian, and US security officials and politicians met in Sharm el-Sheikh following Cairo's invitation to complete the understanding reached in Aqaba on Feb. 26.

The parties agreed on the "necessity of calm" ahead of Ramadan, and they decided to develop a mechanism to curb incitement and inflammatory statements and actions.

The mechanism must submit reports to the leaders of the five countries next April when resuming the meeting session in Sharm El-Sheikh.

Only hours after these understandings, Smotrich denied the existence of a Palestinian people or nationhood, saying there was "no such thing as Palestinians because there's no such thing as the Palestinian people."

Egypt's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ahmed Abu Zeid, described the Israeli minister's statements as "irresponsible and inflammatory," noting that the racist gestures that deny history and geography fuel anger and tension among Palestinians and the people of the free world.

Abu Zeid said such statements undermine efforts to achieve calm between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, especially ahead of Ramadan, which coincides with the Christian and Jewish holidays, all of which establish meanings of tolerance, peace, and respect for others.

An Egyptian official, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity, considered Smotrich's statements a violation of the Sharm el-Sheikh understandings.

He indicated that the US and Egypt stressed during the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting that the Tel Aviv government must maintain stability and calm, rejecting any hostile statements or actions from the far-right ministers that could further exacerbate the situation.

The source said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must control his government, warning of the consequences of unilateral Israeli actions and their impact on achieving calm.



Hamas’ Armed Wing Says Israeli Airstrike Killed Two Hostages in Rafah

12 June 2024, Palestinian Territories, Khan Younis: Tents for displaced Palestinians at al-Mawasi area in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis. (Omar Ashtawy/APA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa)
12 June 2024, Palestinian Territories, Khan Younis: Tents for displaced Palestinians at al-Mawasi area in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis. (Omar Ashtawy/APA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa)
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Hamas’ Armed Wing Says Israeli Airstrike Killed Two Hostages in Rafah

12 June 2024, Palestinian Territories, Khan Younis: Tents for displaced Palestinians at al-Mawasi area in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis. (Omar Ashtawy/APA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa)
12 June 2024, Palestinian Territories, Khan Younis: Tents for displaced Palestinians at al-Mawasi area in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis. (Omar Ashtawy/APA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa)

Hamas' armed wing al-Qassam Brigades said on Friday that two Israeli hostages held in Gaza were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Rafah a few days ago.

The group, in a video posted on its Telegram channel, did not release the names of those said to have been killed or provide any evidence.

The Israeli government "does not want your hostages to return, except in coffins," the al-Qassam Brigades statement said.

Israel rescued four hostages held by Hamas in a hostage-freeing operation in central Gaza's al-Nuseirat on June 8. The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said more than 250 Palestinians were killed in the raid.

The war in Gaza erupted when Hamas fighters stormed southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel has responded with a military assault on the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians, according to the Gaza health ministry. Israel says its campaign is intended to eliminate Hamas as a threat and free the remaining hostages.