Israeli minister faces backlash for saying, 'no such thing as a Palestinian people'



Israel's controversial Finance Minister Bezlel Smotrich is facing new criticism for saying, "there is no such thing as a Palestinian people."

Speaking at an event in France on Monday March 20, Smorich also said there was no Palestinian history or culture. The podium he stood at was reportedly draped with an Israeli flag with a map of the country that included Gaza, the West Bank, and Jordan.

The statement was made on the same day that Israeli and Palestinian leaders met in Egypt to discuss a de-escalation of tensions ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish holiday of Passover.

The Prime Minister of Palestine, Mohammad Shtayyeh, called Smotrich's remarks an incitement to violence. Smotrich, who heads one of Israel's far-right parties, has faced condemnation for what his opponents say are racist and inflammatory remarks against the Palestinian population living under Israeli occupation.

Earlier this month he called for a Palestinian town to be "erased."Israeli forces have raided the occupied West Bank nearly every day over the past year, killing over 250 Palestinians, including women and children. Palestinian fighters and civilians have also shot and killed at least 40 Israeli settlers accused of building on stolen Palestinian land, and others.