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Israeli finance minister: ‘Palestinian nation’ is an invention

Historically the term “Palestine” came from the Roman name for “Roman-occupied Judea,” shortly after the time of Jesus

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich holds a press conference in Jerusalem, Feb. 28, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Speaking at a private memorial event on Sunday in Paris, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said there is “no such thing as Palestinians because there’s no such thing as the Palestinian people [nation].”

“Do you know who the Palestinians are? I’m Palestinian,” the finance minister said.

Smotrich told the audience that his grandmother was born in Metula, a small 19th-century Jewish town in northern Israel, and that his grandfather was a 13th-generation Jewish Jerusalemite. He described his grandparents as “real Palestinians.” 

The far-right politician is known for his controversial statements, including his recent inflammatory rhetoric in early March following the murder of two Israeli brothers by a Palestinian terrorist from the town of Huwara. In response to the double murder, Smotrich publicly said Israel should “wipe out” Huwara. Smotrich was widely condemned domestically and internationally, and eventually retracted his words

Historically, the term “Palestine” came from the Roman name for “Roman-occupied Judea,” shortly after the time of Jesus.

The modern term “Palestinian” was used during the British Mandate of Palestine period, and referred to both Jews and Arabs who held a Palestine Mandate identity document. 

Prior to Israel’s establishment in 1948, the term “Palestinian” mainly referred to and was used by local Jews, while many Arabs rejected it. 

The Palestine Post was the early name for Israel’s daily newspaper, The Jerusalem Post. The Post, The Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra and the Palestine Brigade, which fought for Britain during World War II, were all Jewish institutions. 

In an interview with British Thames TV in 1970, Israel’s legendary late left-wing Prime Minister Golda Meir said, “I am Palestinian,” referring to her documents issued by the British Mandate of Palestine. 

Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the first Congress of Muslim-Christian Arab Associations in the region made the following statement in February 1919: “We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria, as it has never been separated from it at any time. We are connected with it by national, religious, linguistic, moral, economic and geographical bonds.”

In November 1947, the United Nations adopted a resolution to partition the British Mandate of Palestine into one Jewish and one Arab state, not designated as a "Palestinian" state.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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