DUBAI: The international community on Friday condemned what they say were “racist comments” by Israeli Minister of Finance, Betzalel Smotrich calling for the destruction of the Palestinian village of Huwara.
The UN human rights chief Volker Turk, speaking before the Human Rights Council in Geneva, denounced Smotrich’s original comments as “an unfathomable statement of incitement to violence and hostility.”
Turk, who formally presented a report on the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories during the session, also urged an end to the violence.
On Wednesday Smotrich responded to journalists saying the village had to be demolished following the violence. He later claimed the comments were taken out of context, explaining he believed the village had become “hostile” and was turning into a terrorist haven.
A French foreign ministry statement also condemned the comments as “unacceptable, irresponsible and unworthy coming from a member of the Israeli government.”
“These comments only fuel hatred and fuel the spiral of current violence,” the statement added, appealing for calm.
The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) said the UAE rejected all practices that contradicted moral and human values and principles, state news agency WAM reported.
The UAE ministry underscored the need to confront hate speech and violence and said it was important to strengthen “the values of tolerance and human coexistence” in an effort to reduce instability in the region.
Qatar described Smotrich’s comments as “hateful and provocative” and said it considered them “a serious incitement to a war crime.”
Kuwait affirmed its total rejection of such irresponsible provocative statements that contradict all international laws and norms, and represent a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.
Meanwhile, Jordan’s Foreign Ministry condemned Smotrich’s “inflammatory” comments.
The ministry spokesperson, Ambassador Sinan Majali, said the calls for violence “portend serious consequences and represent a violation of international humanitarian law,” state news agency Petra reported.
Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also condemned the minister’s comments in the “strongest terms”, in a statement issued on Friday.
The statement said the Israeli comments represented a “dangerous and unacceptable incitement to violence”, adding that they contradicted “all laws, customs and moral values, and lacks the responsibility that any official holding an official position should have.”
All countries said it was imperative to support all regional and international efforts to advance the Middle East Peace Process, end illegal practices that threaten the two-state solution, and establish an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The Gulf Cooperation Council’s Secretary-General Jasem Al-Budaiwi also denounced the comments and said it was necessary to address the discourse of hatred and violence, and to promote the values of tolerance and human coexistence instead, just as part of efforts being exerted to reduce escalation and ensure stability in the region.
He also echoed calls for backing all efforts to push forward the Middle East peace process and put an end to illegal practices that put the two-state solution into jeopardy.
Washington, a staunch ally of Israel, was even more blunt in its response to Smotrich’s comments on Wednesday.
“They were irresponsible, they were repugnant, they were disgusting,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
“Just as we condemn Palestinian incitement to violence, we condemn these provocative remarks that also amount to incitement to violence,” he added.