Former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo is the latest in a line of former top officials to cross a line in his desire to bring down Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing government.
In an interview with the Associated Press on Wednesday, Pardo claimed that Israel is implementing an “apartheid state” policy against Palestinians in the West Bank.
“In a territory where two people are judged under two legal systems, that is an apartheid state,” said Pardo, who was the Mossad chief from 2011-2016.
This isn’t an “extreme” viewpoint, he said, “it’s a fact.”
Larger implications of Pardo's comments
Although he limited his comments to the West Bank, they will almost certainly be used to attack all of Israel on international platforms.
The fact that Pardo held such a senior position would appear to add credence to his words. Unfortunately, his comments are factually flawed.
As the Post’s Tovah Lazaroff explained last week, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), which is home to more than two million Palestinians and half a million Israelis, is divided into three sections, Areas A, B, and C, in accordance with the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.
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 Israel’s military and civilian control. The nearly 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 more than 300,000 Palestinians who live there also do so under IDF military rule, but maintain some rights from the Palestinian Authority.
Not optimal, but not apartheid
This situation, while not optimal, is not one of apartheid. And one can easily imagine the international uproar were Israel to unilaterally impose Israeli law on the Palestinians.
Israeli citizens have the same rights and duties (such as paying taxes and serving in the military) wherever they live. The Palestinians, who do not want to be Israeli citizens, do not. They are eligible, however, to petition Israel’s High Court and frequently exercise this right.
This complicated situation has existed since Israel took control of the territories 56 years ago in the Six Day War, a war the Arab world launched on the Jewish state with the stated aim of annihilating it.
The Oslo Accords, signed 30 years ago this month, were an attempt to solve the conflict through agreement but floundered in the subsequent waves of Palestinian terrorism and anti-normalization rhetoric and measures.
How curious that Pardo, who was appointed Mossad head by Netanyahu, agreed to hold such a senior position for so many years when he believed the country he was protecting was morally wrong. The situation he describes is not new; it started long before Netanyahu entered politics.
The “apartheid” libel has become a useful tool to such bodies as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the open-ended United Nations Committee of Inquiry. Their efforts focus only on Israel’s supposed crimes, serving to delegitimize the world’s sole Jewish state.
Providing fuel for anti-Israel incitement through distortions and misrepresentations does nothing to solve the conflict with the Palestinians. Rather, it helps perpetuate the hostilities.
If Pardo is truly concerned for Israel’s security and for the well-being of the Palestinians, he should carefully consider his words and their ramifications.
Such attacks by Pardo and others, inspired by personal motivations against the current government and its head, weaken the Jewish state while emboldening its enemies and detractors. To liken this situation to apartheid not only wrongs Israel – it belittles what black South Africans suffered during the country’s actual apartheid regime.
It is entirely legitimate to criticize Netanyahu and his policies, but trying to force his hand by libeling the whole country down is not.
Pardo crossed a red line. He should have known better.