Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has violated the peace treaty between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and made “racist” remarks about the Palestinian people, Jordan’s Foreign Ministry charged on Monday.
“The Israeli government must take a clear and open position toward such extremism and the inflammatory and malicious statements by a serving minister,” Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Sinan Majali said, according to the Petra news service.
His actions “represent reckless incitement that is a violation of international norms and the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty,” Majali said. Jordan’s Foreign Ministry then summoned Israel’s Ambassador Eitan Surkis.
שר האוצר של מדינת ישראל בפריז עם דגל שעליו ארץ ישראל השלמה עם עבר הירדן, דהיינו עם ממלכת ירדן, מדינה ריבונית שיש לה הסכמי שלום איתנו ויחסים מצוינים עם וושינגטון. והוא אומר שם שאין עם פלסטיני. זה סמל האצ"ל (חסר הרובה), אבל ספק אם הירדנים והעולם יבינו. בהצלחה לכולנו pic.twitter.com/74Q5PwU1jI— נדב איל Nadav Eyal (@Nadav_Eyal) March 20, 2023
Smotrich sparked the diplomatic crisis with Jordan through his actions at a memorial event in Paris on Sunday of veteran French Zionist Jacques Kupfer, who died two years earlier at age 74.
It was an event that set off one more political storm for the controversial minister and created tension between Israel and its regional allies, just hours after a successful quintet summit in Sharm el-Sheikh between Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian, Jordanian and American officials.
First, there was the optics. As Smotrich spoke, he stood at a podium adorned with a cloth that looked like an Israeli flag. Instead of the Star of David, there was a graphic that looked to the Jordanians like a map of the State of Israel but with expanded borders that included the West Bank, Gaza and portions of Jordan. It was reminiscent of a pre-state graphic of the para-military group the Irgun, which did indeed symbolize such an expanded map.
Smotrich’s spokesman said the symbols on the flag belonged to groups important to Kupfer’s history and had been placed there by the organizers at the event.
The Foreign Ministry issued a statement in response affirming that “Israel is committed to the peace agreement with Jordan from 1994. There has been no change in the State of Israel’s position, which recognizes the territorial integrity of the Hashemite Kingdom.”
In an unusual National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi, who had represented in Aqaba and Sharm el-Sheikh, spoke with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi on Monday. Hanegbi pledged Israel’s commitment to Jordan’s territorial integration and to the peace treaty between them. He explained that the treaty had “strengthened the stability and the security of our region for nearly 30 years.”
“I relayed to FM Safadi the important contributions made by King Abdullah in ensuring the successes of both the meetings in Aqaba and Sharm El Sheikh,” Hanegbi tweeted.
Additionally, I relayed to FM Safadi the important contributions made by King Abdullah in ensuring the successes of both the meetings in Aqaba and Sharm El Sheikh, which included participation of Jordan, Egypt, the United States, the PA and Israel— Tzachi Hanegbi • צחי הנגבי (@Tzachi_Hanegbi) March 20, 2023
What did Bezalel Smotrich say about Palestinians?
Neither he nor Israel’s Foreign Minister address the statements issued by Smotrich in which he dismissed the existence of the Palestinian people.
“There is no such thing as Palestinians because there is no such thing as a Palestinian people.”Bezalel Smotrich
“There is no such thing as Palestinians because there is no such thing as a Palestinian people,” said Smotrich, who heads the Religious Zionist Party.
“Who are the [real] Palestinians? I am Palestinian,” he said.