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Gulf States Urge US to Reject Israeli Minister’s Statements

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In a letter addressed to a Washington diplomat, on Sunday, the Gulf Cooperation Council condemned the controversial statements of the Israeli Minister of Finance regarding the presence of the Palestinians.

In a letter to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, the Gulf Cooperation Council called on Washington to “assume its responsibilities in responding to all measures and statements targeting the Palestinian people.”

The letter from the foreign ministers of the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries also called on the United States to “play its role in reaching a just, comprehensive and lasting solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Speaking earlier this month, Israel’s far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said the Palestinians were not a people, comments that angered Arab countries.

The US State Department said it found Smotrich’s remarks “not only inaccurate but also deeply troubling and dangerous”.

Smotrich is part of the far-right government of veteran Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that took office in December.

The GCC ministers also denounced Smotrich’s previous statements, in which he called for the “elimination” of the Palestinian town of Hawara in the West Bank after two Israelis were shot dead there by an alleged Hamas activist in February, statements he later retracted.

The GCC countries, whose foreign ministers met in Riyadh last week, include the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which have normalized relations with Israel under the 2020 Abraham Accords drawn up by the United States, as well as Saudi Arabia, which has not.

Violence has escalated in the West Bank in recent months, which Israel has occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War.

On Tuesday, the State Department criticized the Israeli parliament’s move to repeal part of a law banning Israelis from living in West Bank areas evacuated in 2005, calling it “provocative” and directly contradicting promises made to Washington at the time.

Blinken, who is appearing before a Senate committee, reiterated the previous US retraction of Smotrich’s remarks on the Palestinians, saying they did not reflect American values.

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