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Statement calling Palestinians ‘an invention’ a provocation: Türkiye

Türkiye has expressed “deep concern” over the increasing tensions in Jerusalem and West Bank, warning against a “provocative” statement made by a senior Israeli official dismissing the existence of Palestine as “an invention”.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry lambasted the “baseless, irresponsible and provocative claims” made by some Israeli politicians on the Palestinian state and people, “which are incompatible with political, historical or current realities.”

Ankara further condemned Israel’s annulling part of a 2005 law that had ordered Jewish residents’ evacuation from four illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich had said in a speech on Sunday in the French capital, Paris, that the Palestinians were “an invention” from the last century and people like himself and his grandparents were the “real Palestinians.”

Smotrich heads a religious-nationalist party in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right coalition. Since becoming part of the coalition government, he has been issuing statement, which critics are provocative. 

In recent weeks, he also drew global outrage when he said that the Palestinian village of Huwara should be “erased”, after hundreds of illegal Israeli settlers carried out an attack, torching over a hundred of homes and and scores of cars.

In the face of international condemnation, he later said he “misspoke”, but he did not apologise.

Smotrich, who opposes Palestinian statehood, has remained silent about his latest statement about the Palestinians.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh earlier condemned Smotrich’s remarks, saying they amounted to incitement to violence.

A separate statement by the Palestinian foreign ministry said that, by denying the existence of the Palestinian people and their legitimate national rights in their homeland, Israeli leaders “foster an environment that fuels Jewish extremism and t errorism against our people”.

Such positions “continue the spiral of violence with the aim of sabotaging efforts to achieve calm.”

The Israeli-occupied West Bank has seen a surge of confrontations in recent months, with near-daily Israeli military raids and escalating violence by Jewish settlers, amid a spate of attacks by Palestinians.

Since the beginning of the year there have been more than 100 people killed most of them Palestinians. At least 13 Israelis were also among the reported fatalities.

Smotrich’s latest controversial statement comes just days ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is expected to begin on Thursday.

The Jewish festival of Passover is set to take place in April, coinciding with Ramadan.

The upcoming period is sensitive because large numbers of Jewish and Muslim faithful pour into Jerusalem’s Old City, the emotional heart of the conflict and a flashpoint for violence, increasing friction points.

Large numbers of Jews are also expected to visit a key Jerusalem holy site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount — an act the Palestinians view as a provocation.

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