US State Department Condemns Israeli Minister for Inflammatory Comments about Palestinians
In a recent interview on Israeli TV, Israel’s national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, made comments that have sparked outrage and condemnation from the US State Department. Ben-Gvir stated that his rights in the occupied West Bank are more important than those of Palestinians, igniting a storm of protest online. The minister’s remarks came amidst escalating violence in which three Israelis were killed by Palestinian gunmen in separate attacks.
Ben-Gvir’s comments were made during an interview with Arab-Israeli journalist Mohammed Magadli. He asserted, “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.” He further stated, “Sorry, Mohammed, but this is the reality, that’s the truth. My right for life comes before their right to movement.”
These remarks quickly went viral and triggered a backlash from Palestinians and Israeli opposition figures. One of those who shared a video of his comments online was Palestinian American model Bella Hadid. In her Instagram post, where she has nearly 60 million followers, she wrote, “In no place, no time… should one life be more valuable than another’s.”
Ben-Gvir responded to Hadid’s post by accusing her of being an “Israel hater” who had misrepresented his words as racist and dark. The minister leads the far-right, ultranationalist Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) political party, which promotes racist and anti-Arab policies. He has previous convictions for inciting racism and supporting a terrorist organization.
The US State Department strongly condemned Ben-Gvir’s comments, describing them as “inflammatory” and denouncing “all racist rhetoric.” A spokesperson for the department 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.”
The European Union (EU) also joined in condemning Ben-Gvir’s remarks, emphasizing that the values of democracy and respect for human rights are central to the EU-Israel partnership. The EU stated that these values apply to the people living under occupation in the Palestinian territory.
Various parties representing Arab Israelis, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and Israeli anti-occupation groups also condemned Ben-Gvir’s comments. However, many pointed out that his remarks simply reflect the longstanding reality of life for Palestinians in the West Bank. B’tselem, an Israeli nongovernmental human rights organization that supports Palestinians living under 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.”
Ben-Gvir’s political background lies in Kahanism, an extremist and violently racist ideology that advocates for the expulsion of Palestinians from their lands. When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formed his coalition government in December, he appointed Ben-Gvir as the head of Israel’s militarized border police force operating in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The Palestinian Authority strongly condemned Ben-Gvir’s remarks, describing them as racist and heinous. They argued that these comments only confirm Israel’s apartheid regime of Jewish supremacy and racial terror against the Palestinian people.
The controversy surrounding Ben-Gvir’s comments highlights the ongoing tensions and deep divisions within Israeli society. It also underscores the urgent need for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that respects the rights and dignity of all individuals involved.
In conclusion, the US State Department’s condemnation of Israeli Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s inflammatory comments about Palestinians reflects a broader concern over racist rhetoric and the need for respect for human rights. The international community, including the EU, has also expressed its strong disapproval of Ben-Gvir’s remarks. While some argue that his comments reflect the reality faced by Palestinians in the West Bank, others view them as perpetuating an apartheid-like system. This controversy underscores the importance of finding a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that upholds the rights and dignity of all individuals involved.