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19 Dec, 2017 14:04

‘Israel gave Palestinians a state in Gaza, they turned it into Afghanistan’ – education minister

‘Israel gave Palestinians a state in Gaza, they turned it into Afghanistan’ – education minister

Israel’s education minister said that international calls to make East Jerusalem the capital of Palestine are irrelevant because “the Palestinian issue is a fake issue” and Palestine itself is a “fake state.”

Speaking on the BBC’s Hard Talk program, Naftali Bennett said that Israel’s claim on Jerusalem was a non-issue because “no one in the Arab world ever accepted the notion of a Palestinian nation.” The education minister added that Israel “granted [the Palestinians] a state in Gaza and they turned it into Afghanistan in the heart of Israel. We aren't about to make that mistake again."

Pressed to comment on how US President Donald Trump’s December 6 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital could jeopardize efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement, Bennett shot back that “the Palestinian issue is a fake issue, just like the notion of a Palestinian state is a fake state."

Bennett’s views on Jerusalem and the Palestinian state sharply contrast with international consensus. On Sunday, the UN Security Council voted 14-1 to demand that the United States withdraw its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state. The resolution did not pass, since the one opposing vote, cast by US ambassador Nikki Haley, came from a permanent Security Council member.

European and Arab states alike have called for East Jerusalem to be recognized as the capital of Palestine.

In 2010, John Holmes, the UN humanitarian chief, described Gaza as a “kind of open-air prison,” in which Israel strictly controls who and what can enter and leave.