- By Tom Bateman
- BBC News, Jerusalem
The US has condemned Israel’s nationwide safety minister Itamar Ben Gvir for claiming his rights within the occupied West Bank are extra vital than these of Palestinians.
The state division stated it strongly condemned the “inflammatory comments” and “all racist rhetoric”.
His remarks on Israeli TV sparked a storm of criticism on-line.
Mr Ben Gvir has since known as the protection “fake news” and attacked the “radical left” for “misquoting” him.
On X, the platform beforehand referred to as Twitter, Mr Ben Gvir on Friday additionally launched a scathing assault on the Palestinian-American mannequin Bella Hadid for reposting a clip of his comments, calling her an “Israel hater” who made him look “racist and dark”.
Ms Hadid had reposted the video on Instagram the place she has 60 million followers, including the remark: “In no place, no time… should one life be more valuable than another’s.”
Mr Ben Gvir leads the ultranationalist Otzma Yehudit or “Jewish Power” get together which espouses racist, anti-Arab insurance policies. He has earlier convictions for inciting racism and supporting terrorism.
In December he was made a high minister by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who gave him a seat in his safety cupboard and put him answerable for the home police, in addition to Israel’s militarised border police drive that operates in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
His comments on Wednesday got here amid spiralling violence through which Palestinian gunmen killed three Israelis in separate assaults, together with one near the West Bank metropolis of Hebron, the place Mr Ben Gvir lives in a Jewish settlement.
It led to even additional restrictions on motion for lots of of hundreds of Palestinians as Israeli forces looked for the gunmen.
“My right, my wife’s, my children’s, to roam the roads of Judea and Samaria are more important than the right of movement of the Arabs,” stated Mr Ben Gvir, utilizing a biblical time period for the West Bank.
He then addressed Mohammad Magadli, an Arab Israeli journalist within the studio, saying: “Sorry Mohammad, but this is the reality, that’s the truth. My right for life comes before their right to movement.”
A video clip of the comments went viral on-line and sparked a backlash, together with from Palestinians and Israeli opposition figures.
The Palestinian Authority management condemned “in the strongest terms the racist and heinous remarks by Israel’s fascist minister Itamar Ben Gvir, which only confirms Israel’s apartheid regime of Jewish supremacy and racial terror against the Palestinian people”.
It known as for Mr Ben Gvir and different Israeli officers to be “sanctioned and held accountable”.
Karine Elharrar, an Israeli MP within the opposition Yesh Atid get together, described the minister as “the authentic representative of the most racist, messianic and Kahanist government we’ve ever had”.
Mr Ben Gvir’s political background lies in Kahanism – a violently racist motion that helps the expulsion of Palestinians from their lands.
Pressed by Israeli journalists for a response, a US state division spokesman on Thursday evening stated: “We strongly condemn Israeli minister Ben Gvir’s inflammatory comments on the freedom of movement of Palestinian residents in the West Bank.”
“We condemn all racist rhetoric; as such messages are particularly damaging when amplified by those in leadership positions and are incongruent with advancing respect for human rights for all.”
Later on Friday, the EU additionally “strongly condemned” Mr Ben Gvir’s comments, saying “the values of democracy and respect for human rights stand central to the EU-Israel partnership, including as regards the people living under occupation in the Palestinian territory”.
Palestinians within the West Bank already endure extreme restrictions on the fitting to motion, together with being unable with out permits to freely journey to Jerusalem or their ancestral lands inside Israel. The Israeli authorities say that is carried out for safety causes.
Parties representing Arab Israelis, or Palestinian residents of Israel, in addition to Israeli anti-occupation teams condemned Mr Ben Gvir however argued that he was merely articulating longstanding realities within the West Bank.
Addressing the US state division response, Arab Israeli MP Ahmed Tibi stated: “Ben Gvir… described bluntly, as a top Israeli minister, the general and sweeping Israeli policy since 1967. Why are you crying out following the description of racist apartheid reality, and not… the reality as it is?”
B’tselem, an Israeli non-governmental organisation which supplies help for Palestinians residing below Israel’s navy occupation, stated: “This is the reality we see on the ground, every day, for five decades. The rights of the Jews are more important than the rights of the Arabs, this is what apartheid looks like.”
In a possible nod to the worldwide response to his comments, Mr Ben Gvir posted an announcement in English on Thursday blaming the “Israeli radical left” for “selectively” misquoting him.
He stated: “This is how fake news is spread: I said yesterday on a TV broadcast that the right of Jews to live and not be murdered in terror attacks prevails over the right of Arabs in Judea and Samaria to travel on the roads without security restrictions. That is why checkpoints should be placed on roads where regular terrorism and shooting by jihadists are committed against Jews.”
“This is exactly how the Left continues to fan the flames of incitement in the world against the Israeli government,” he added.
Following Monday’s assault, Israeli forces arrange checkpoints at entrances and exits to Hebron the place they had been questioning Palestinians, whereas they looked for the gunmen who shot lifeless Batsheva Nigri, a 40-year-old nursery trainer and mom of three who lived in a close-by settlement.
Last week, a 15-year-old Palestinian boy was left critically wounded after being shot within the head by Israeli forces in East Jerusalem. Police alleged he had tried to throw a petroleum bomb at them throughout a raid.
The similar day video confirmed an apparently unarmed Palestinian man stated to undergo from psychological well being issues being shot and wounded by Israeli troops throughout a protest close to Israel’s separation barrier in Qalqilya.