Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich lambasted the United States government on Monday for allegedly displaying a double standard in its criticism of Israel’s actions in the West Bank, also known as biblical Judea and Samaria.
During an interview on Army Radio. Smotrich said that the Biden administration should not be preaching to Israel about morality and human rights.
“There is no nation that has been fighting for its survival in the face of murderous terrorism for decades in a cleaner and more careful way than the Jewish people,” Smotrich said. “Everyone who attacks us in the world is a hypocrite.”
“I am not talking about the Americans and how they acted in Afghanistan and Iraq. They shouldn't preach to us about human rights, neither to the IDF nor to us on a political level. This is unmitigated hypocrisy,” the finance minister added.
“I'm not ready to accept that once in a while, people are being murdered here just because that is the 'price of Zionism',” Smotrich continued. “It is clear that we all want the best of the state. We do accept matter-of-fact discourse and criticism. We need to deal with how we manage security in the State of Israel. The reality is that there is an ongoing wave of terrible terror against us. We are in a very serious wave of murders."
Smotrich made these remarks when asked about controversial statements made last week by his fellow coalition member, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir. The far-right minister said in a TV panel discussion that the right of life for Jews takes precedence over freedom of movement for Arabs.
“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,” Ben Gvir said.
“That’s the reality. That’s the truth. My right to life comes before their right to movement,” he clarified.
Following Ben Gvir’s remarks, a U.S. State Department spokesman said: "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 office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to mitigate the international backlash by issuing a statement in English, claiming that “Israel allows maximum freedom of movement in Judea and Samaria for both Israelis and Palestinians.”
“Unfortunately, Palestinian terrorists take advantage of this freedom of movement to murder Israeli women, children and families by ambushing them at certain points on different routes,” added the statement.
It noted that 34 Israeli civilians were murdered by Palestinian terrorists so far in 2023, many of them while driving home.
“In order to prevent these heinous murders, Israel's security forces have implemented special security measures in these areas. This is what Minister Ben Gvir meant when he said ’the right to life precedes freedom of movement,’”the statement clarified.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.