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US condemns Israel’s Ben-Gvir over 'racist rhetoric'

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who said his right to move freely in the West Bank was more important than that of Palestinians, has faced growing international criticism, including from US model Bella Hadid.
Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel's national security minister and leader of the far-right Jewish Power party, addresses supporters in Jerusalem, November 2, 2022.

Comments made by Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir last Wednesday continue to elicit international criticism. In an interview on Israel’s Channel 12, Ben-Gvir had said, “My right, and my wife’s and my children’s rights, to get around on the roads in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank], is more important than the right to movement for Arabs.” 

The interview touched on tensions in the West Bank between Jewish settlers and Palestinians and the shooting death of an Israeli driver near the Beit Hagay settlement. Ben-Gvir told Channel 12 that he supports tightening restrictions on Palestinians living in the area where the shooting occurred. 

With three Israelis killed in the West Bank last week, leaders of the settlers have been demanding that the security forces step up measures against Palestinians, including erecting checkpoints on roads frequently traveled by settlers and implementing impromptu blockades around Palestinian towns and villages. Still, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and senior Israel Defense Forces officers are reluctant to take such steps, which will clearly make the daily lives of Palestinians in the West Bank much harder. 

Also in the interview, Ben-Gvir had dismissed the approach of Gallant, saying that the quality of life of the Palestinians was not really important. He then slammed journalist Mohammad Magadli, who had raised that issue, saying, “Sorry Mohammad, but that’s the reality. That’s the truth. My right to life comes before their right to movement.” 

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