France fears ‘apartheid’ in Israel if Palestinians don’t get their own state

Published May 24, 2021
Protesters hold Palestinian flags in Paris as they take part in a rally supporting Palestinians. — AP
Protesters hold Palestinian flags in Paris as they take part in a rally supporting Palestinians. — AP

PARIS/JERUSALEM: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned on Sunday of the risk of “long-lasting apartheid” in Israel in the event the Palestinians fail to obtain their own state.

Le Drian is one of the first senior French officials to use the term “apartheid” in reference to Israel, which has angrily denied any policy of racial discrimination.

The veteran politician made the remarks in an interview with RTL radio and Le Figaro newspaper in reference to the violence that erupted in several Israeli cities.

The violence, which revealed simmering anger among Israeli Arabs over the crackdown on Palestinians in Jerusalem, shattered years of peaceful coexistence within Israel.

“It’s the first time and it clearly shows that if in the future we had a solution other than the two-state solution, we would have the ingredients of long-lasting apartheid,” Le Drian said, using the word for the white supremacist oppression of blacks in South Africa from 1948 to 1991.

Le Drian said the “risk of apartheid is high” if Israel continued to act “according to a single-state logic” but also if it maintained the status quo. “Even the status quo produces that,” he said.

He added that the 11-day violence had shown the need to revive the moribund Middle East peace process.

“We have take one step at a time,” he said, expressing satisfaction that US President Joe Biden had reiterated support for creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Israeli police escort Jews

Israeli police escorted more than 250 Jewish visitors on Sunday to a flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem where attacks on Palestinian protesters helped trigger violence in Gaza, according to the Islamic authority overseeing the site.

With tensions still high, police cleared young Palestinians out of the Al Aqsa Mosque compound and barred entry to Muslims under the age of 45, according to the Islamic Waqf, which oversees the site.

Muslims who entered were required to leave their IDs with police at the entrance. It said six Palestinians were detained, with four later released.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2021

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