As long as there is no Palestinian state and Israel rules over the West Bank, Israel is a de facto apartheid state, a former top Foreign Ministry official said Wednesday, using a highly contentious term usually employed only by radical anti-Israel activists.
Alon Liel, a former Foreign Ministry director-general and ex-ambassador to South Africa, also called on President Barack Obama to stay home if he didn’t intend to warn Israelis about the dangers of an approaching “apartheid cliff.”
“In the situation that exists today, until a Palestinian state is created, we are actually one state. This joint state — in the hope that the status quo is temporary — is an apartheid state,” Liel said at a Jerusalem conference about whether Israel is or could become an apartheid state.
“As someone who knows the original apartheid well, and also knows the State of Israel quite well – I was born here, grew up here, served and fought for it for 30 years — someone like me knows that Zionism isn’t apartheid and the State of Israel that I grew up in wasn’t an apartheid state,” Liel emphasized.
“I’m here today because I came to the conclusion that the occupation of the West Bank as it exists today is a sort of Israeli apartheid,” said Liel. “The occupation became a hump on the back of Zionism; it has now become the hump of the State of Israel.”
There is a real danger of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank becoming an integral part of the state, he said. “When that happens, when the West Bank and [Israel in the pre-1967 lines] become one, and the Palestinian residents of the West Bank will not have citizenship — we’re apartheid,” he said.