Middle East Eye / August 24, 2023
Far-right security minister says he and his family have a greater right to move around the West Bank.
Speaking in an interview with Israel’s Channel 12, Ben-Gvir was asked about the increasing tensions in the West Bank, which in recent weeks has seen Palestinians and Jewish settlers being killed.
Ben-Gvir said that his rights were “more important” than those of Palestinians and more needed to be done to ensure the security of settlers.
The National Security Minister went on to add that the country’s Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, was not doing enough to clamp down on Palestinians.
“My right, and my wife’s and my children’s right to get around on the roads in Judea and Samaria, is more important than the right to movement for Arabs [Palestinians],” said Ben-Gvir, using Jewish nationalist terms for areas of the West Bank.
“Sorry Mohammad,” Ben-Gvir went on to tell Channel 12 journalist Mohammad Magadli, “but that’s the reality. That’s the truth. My right to life comes before their right to movement.”
Ben-Gvir is himself a settler in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, near the Palestinian city of Hebron/Al-Khalil.
Mairav Zonszein, a senior Israeli analyst with the International Crisis Group, said that that Ben-Gvir spoke the “quiet part out loud” – in reference to disdain many on the Israeli right have for Palestinian life.
Ahmad Tibi, an MP and Palestinian citizen of Israel, called Ben-Gvir’s comments proof that Israel doesn’t value Palestinian life.
“For the first time, an Israeli minister admits on air that Israel enforces an apartheid regime, based on Jewish supremacy,” Tibi said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
‘A medal for killing Palestinians’
Ben-Gvir has a long track record of expressing racist, anti-Palestinian views.
He was educated in Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach party, with its official platform advocating the nullification of Israeli citizenship for the state’s Palestinian citizens.
After Kach – the only Jewish political entity in Israel ever defined as a terrorist organization – was outlawed, Ben-Gvir continued his violent activism against Palestinians and was charged eight times for it, including for incitement to racism and support for a terrorist organization.
For many years, he hung at his home a portrait of Baruch Goldstein, the settler from Kiryat Arba who in 1994 murdered 29 Muslim worshippers in Hebron’s Al-Ibrahimi Mosque.
Earlier this month Ben-Gvir praised settlers suspected of killing a 19-year-old Palestinian in the occupied West Bank as “heroes”.
The head of the Jewish Power party said that anyone defending themselves against “stone-throwing” should “receive a commendation”.
“A Jew who defends himself and others from murder by Palestinians is not a murder suspect, but a hero who will get full backing from me,” he said.
Since the start of the year, at least eight Palestinians have been killed during settler attacks, compared with five Palestinians killed by suspected settlers in 2022.