Israeli hardline National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Friday reiterated a controversial statement, claiming that the life of Israeli settlers is more important than the movement of Palestinians.
Ben-Gvir made his remarks while commenting on the Israeli army closure of Palestinian shops in Huwara town, northern West Bank, following an attack by a Palestinian against a settler's car on Thursday.
"Our lives come before the freedom of movement (and trade) of the 'Palestinians'. We will continue to tell this truth and work towards its realization," he said, and intentionally put the word Palestinians between quotation marks as a sign of his non-recognition of them.
Early in August, Ben-Gvir also made a similar statement, saying his right to move around the West Bank is superior to the freedom of movement of Palestinians.
"My right, the right of my wife and my children to move around Judea and Samaria is more important than freedom of movement for the Arabs," he told an Israeli local channel.
His statement in August sparked wide criticism and condemnations from across the world, including from the US, which said Ben-Gvir's remarks were "inflammatory" and had a "racist rhetoric."
Tensions have been running high across the occupied West Bank in recent months amid repeated Israeli raids into Palestinian towns.
More than 230 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the start of 2023, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. At least 35 Israelis have also been killed in Palestinian attacks during the same period, the highest Israeli toll since 2005.
Under international law, all Jewish settlements in occupied territories are considered illegal.