The EU has “strongly” condemned Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s comments on the freedom of movement of Arabs in the Occupied West Bank, according to media reports on Friday, Anadolu Agency reports.
The EU recalled that ties between Israel and the EU should be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, Palestine’s official news agency, Wafa, reported.
“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,” Ben-Gvir said on Wednesday in an interview with Channel 12, using the biblical term for the Occupied Territory.
His remark drew widespread condemnation, including from the US, which labelled it “racist rhetoric”.
“All human beings are equal and should be treated the same way. In this context, the values of democracy and respect for human rights stand central to the EU-Israel partnership, including as regards the people living under Occupation in the Palestinian Territory,” noted the EU.
Recalling that settlements are illegal under international law and constitute an obstacle to peace, the bloc reiterated its opposition to Israel’s settlement policy, which includes restrictions on movement and access.
The EU also called on Israel to improve Palestinians’ freedom of movement and access in order to allow for faster Palestinian construction.
Under the 1995 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, was divided into three portions – Areas A, B, and C.
While Area A represents 18 per ceent of the West Bank and is controlled by the Palestinian Authority in terms of security and administration, Area B accounts for 21per cent of the territory and is under Palestinian civil administration and Israeli security control.
Area C, which represents 61 per cent of the West Bank, is under Israel’s civil and security control.
According to estimates, about 700,000 illegal Israeli settlers live in 164 settlements and 116 outposts in the Occupied West Bank.
Under international law, all Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories are considered illegal.