France denounced today the “irresponsible” statements of the Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrichwho last Sunday denied the existence of the Palestinians as individuals and as a people during an evening organized by a small radical Zionist group in Paris.

“We call on those who have been called to high positions within the Israeli government to demonstrate the appropriate dignity, to respect that of others and refrain from any action or statement that contributes to the escalation of tensions,” the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“There are no Palestinians as there is no Palestinian people,” far-right minister Bezalel Smotrich said Sunday night during a private visit to Paris, remarks that were broadcast live on Facebook and then widely reproduced on social media.

Smotrich made these statements on the same day that negotiations were being held in Egypt in an attempt to ease tensions ahead of Ramadan, and while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is marked by a new vicious cycle of violence that has already caused the death of more than a hundred people since beginning of the year.

“After 2,000 years of exile the prophecies (of the Hebrew Bible) are beginning to be fulfilled and (…) the people of Israel are returning to their home,” observed Smotrich.

“There are Arabs around who don’t like this, so what do they do? They invent a fictitious people and claim fictitious rights to the land of Israel,” he added.

Smotrich’s statements are “inappropriate and irresponsible”, condemned French diplomacy, which in early March had used the same terms after an earlier controversial statement by the Israeli finance minister. Then had asked to be “wiped off the map” Huwara, where two Israeli settlers were recently killed while driving near this Palestinian town in the northern West Bank, which was then attacked by Israeli settlers.