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US condemns Israeli minister's 'inflammatory comments'

EPA PHOTO

Israeli Police Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has sparked outrage with a statement on the freedom of movement of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including strong condemnation from the United States, Israel's biggest supporter.

"My right, my wife's right and my children's right to travel on the roads of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) is more important than the right to movement for Arabs," Ben-Gvir had said on Thursday in an interview on Israeli television's Channel 12.

He then turned to the Arab-Israeli journalist Mohammad Magadli in the room and said, "I'm sorry Mohammad but this is the reality, this is the truth. My right to life takes precedence".

The comment was strongly condemned by the United States government, which supplies Israel with $US3.8 billion ($A5.9 billion) annually in military aid, making it by far the country's strongest supporter.

"We strongly condemn Minister Ben-Gvir's inflammatory comments on the freedom of movement of Palestinian residents of the West Bank, a statement issued by the US State Department read.

"We condemn all racist rhetoric; such messages are particularly damaging when amplified by those in leadership positions and are incongruent with advancing respect for human rights for all," it added.

Ben-Gvir lives with his family in the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba, near the Palestinian city of Hebron.

Members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's nationalist-religious government, for example, have called for even stricter controls on roads.

The US statement said that both President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken believe that "both Israelis and Palestinians deserve to enjoy equal measures of freedom and security".

On Friday, dozens protested outside Ben-Gvir's home.

Israel took over the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967.

According to the latest figures, about 700,000 Israeli settlers live there today.