Right-wing politicians attacked former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo for accusing Israel of executing an apartheid system against Palestinians in the West Bank, during an interview he gave to the Associated Press that was published on Wednesday.
“There is an apartheid state here,” Pardo told AP, as he referenced the West Bank, which is outside the borders of sovereign Israel.
“In a territory where two people are judged under two legal systems, that is an apartheid state,” said Pardo, who led the Mossad from 2011-2016.
This isn’t an “extreme” viewpoint, he said, “it’s a fact.”
In his conversation with AP, Pardo said that failure to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict posed a greater existential threat to Israel than a nuclear Iran.
Israel, Pardo said, has to finalize its borders if it wants to remain a Jewish state.
“Israel needs to decide what it wants. A country that has no border has no boundaries,” Pardo told AP.
Likud says former Mossad head made 'false' statements
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party attacked him for making “false” statements against his country.
“Instead of defending the State of Israel and the IDF, Pardo slanders Israel. Pardo – shame on you,” the Likud stated.
“No country in the world acts against terrorism at the high level of morality at which Israel acts,” it emphasized.
It pointed to the status within sovereign Israel, even though Pardo’s comments had been limited to the West Bank.
“The IDF acts morally to protect the citizens of Israel while preventing injury to innocents. Hospitals in Israel treat Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians alike. Arabs and Jews study and work together in Israel,” the Likud said.
Palestinians have long accused Israel of the crime of apartheid, as they compared their situation to that of South Africa during the era of apartheid, which ended in the early 1990s.
Israel’s harshest critics have leveled that accusation against both sovereign Israel and the West Bank, while others like Pardo have limited it just to the latter.
The West Bank, which is home to over two million Palestinians and half a million Israelis, is divided into three sections, areas A, B, and C.
Areas A and B, which comprise 40% of the West Bank, are under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority.
The remainder of the West Bank, some 60%, is under the IDF military and civilian control. The close to half a million Israelis who live there are under IDF military rule but maintain the same individual rights as those who live in sovereign Israel. The over 300,000 Palestinians who live there, do so both under IDF military rule, but maintain some rights from the Palestinian Authority.
It was this two-tiered system under IDF control that Pardo referenced. Politicians in Netanyahu’s government are pushing to extend Israeli laws to Israelis in Area C as part of a campaign to apply sovereignty to that area.