Bezalel Smotrich
Bezalel SmotrichCourtesy

Lebanon on Tuesday condemned the remarks made by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who said at an event in Paris that “there’s no such thing as a Palestinian people”.

In a statement quoted by the Xinhua news agency, the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on the international community to “take deterrent measures and reject the deliberately provocative statement aimed at abolishing a peaceful solution and exacerbating the deteriorating situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.”

Speaking on Sunday at a tribute event in memory of Likud activist Jacques Kupfer, who died of cancer two years ago, Smotrich said, "Jacques' truth must be told with all our might and without confusion, he said there is no such thing as Palestinians - because there is no such thing as a Palestinian people. We need to tell the truth without bowing to the lies and distortions of history, and without succumbing to the hypocrisy of BDS and the pro-Palestinian organizations."

Smotrich claimed in his remarks that he himself is Palestinian. "My grandfather, who was the 13th generation in Jerusalem, is the real Palestinian. My grandmother, who was born in Metula more than 100 years ago to a family of pioneers, is Palestinian."

He gave his speech while a map of "Greater Israel", that included the territory of modern-day Jordan and Judea and Samaria, was displayed behind him.

The comments and the map infuriated Jordan, whose Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned Smotrich, calling his speech “reckless incitement and a violation of international norms and the Jordanian Peace Treaty.”

Hours later, the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it had summoned the Israeli Ambassador in Jordan for a reprimand following Smotrich’s speech.

Israel’s National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi said on Monday night that he spoke to Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi following the uproar over Smotrich's speech.

“I assured him of the commitment the Government of Israel has to uphold the peace treaty between our two countries which has strengthened the stability and the security of our region for nearly 30 years and that we are committed to the entire territorial integrity of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” said Hanegbi.

“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,” he added.

The Biden administration was also critical of Smotrich, with Deputy US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel saying on Tuesday that the administration found Smotrich's remarks "to not only be inaccurate but also deeply concerning and dangerous."

"The Palestinians have a rich history and culture," Patel said.

Earlier Tuesday, French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre called Smotrich's comments “infuriating and irresponsible.”

Legendre said: "We call on those who were called to senior positions in the Israeli government to show the appropriate respect, to treat others with respect, and to avoid any action or statement that contributes to an escalation in tensions."