The foreign ministers of several Gulf nations sent a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemning the statements made by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and demanded the Americans take responsibility for it.
The letter specifically referred to Smotrich's statements regarding "wiping out" the Palestinian West Bank town of Huwara and claiming that the Palestinian people didn't exist.
وزراء خارجية دول مجلس التعاون يبعثون برسالة مشتركة إلى وزير الخارجية الأمريكي .. الأمين العام: الرسالة تأتي تجسيداً لموقف قادة دول المجلس بشأن قضية فلسطين كونها قضية العرب والمسلمين الأولى https://t.co/87sBL1Xgsz#مجلس_التعاون pic.twitter.com/S0SPOg1QON— مجلس التعاون (@GCCSG) March 26, 2023
The Gulf Cooperation Council asserted that the Palestinian issue remains a priority for Arabs and Muslims and reaffirmed their support for Palestinian sovereignty.
What did Israel's Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich say that made people upset?
Smotrich, head of Israel's right-wing Religious Zionist Party, had sparked backlash when he said that “Huwara needs to be wiped out, but the State of Israel needs to do it, most certainly not private citizens,” while being interviewed by TheMarker. The statement was made following a violent terrorist attack in the West Bank town.
Later, while in France, Smotrich dismissed the existence of Palestinians entirely.
“There is no such thing as Palestinians because there is no such thing as a Palestinian people,” he said at the time. “Who are the [real] Palestinians? I am Palestinian.”
This is a developing story.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.