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Israeli MP says no Arabic letter for ‘P’ means Palestine doesn’t exist

An Israeli Likud lawmaker recently claimed that there is no nation called Palestine because Arabic does not have ‘P’

Published: Updated:

In what could be confused as a report from satirical U.S news site The Onion, an Israeli lawmaker recently claimed that there is no nation called Palestine because “Arabic does not have ‘P.’”

Anat Berko, a lawmaker in the ruling Likud party, said in a Knesset address on Wednesday that “I want to go back to history, what is our place here, about Jerusalem, about Palestine, when like we said, Arabic doesn’t even have ‘P,’ so this loan-word also merits scrutiny.”

While there is no ‘P’ sound, in Arabic, the word for “Palestine” in Arabic is “Falastin,” which also happens to be the similar pronunciation to its sister Semitic language - Hebrew.

Even when opposition lawmakers butt in and corrected Berko, she insisted, “There is no ‘Pa,’” snorting, “Pa, pa, pa.” “There’s ‘Fa,’” she added.

The oblivious gaffe by the lawmaker seemed to irk other Knesset members. Tamar Zandberg, a member of the left-wing Meretz who questioned Berko and asked her “are you an idiot?”

Berko reportedly said later she was alluding to the fact the Romans referred to the region as Syria Palaestina, but her comments were ridiculed, Agence France-Presse reported.

“Don’t you have a brain?” a parliamentarian from the left-wing Meretz party asked.

Jamal Dajani, a spokesman for the Palestinian prime minister’s office, said it was an attempt to “dehumanize Palestinians.”

Israeli media on Thursday quoted Berko defending herself.

“The Romans called this place Palaestina,” she said.

“The Palestinians who took the name borrowed it, but could not pronounce it properly. They distorted it. No one said that there is no Palestinian people.”

Berko, however, did not stay unscathed from some Twitter users who mocked her.

(With AFP)