France voiced its concern on Sunday that there was a risk of “long-lasting apartheid” in Israel if Palestinians failed to obtain their own state. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian became first senior official in the country to use the term “apartheid” in reference to Israel.
The veteran politician made the remarks in an interview with RTL radio and Le Figaro newspaper in reference to the clashes between Jews and Arabs that erupted in several Israeli cities during the latest conflict.
“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.
The latest spell of violence shattered years of peaceful co-existence within Israel. It also revealed simmering anger among Israeli Arab over the crackdown on Palestinians in Jerusalem.
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.
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He added that the 11-day conflict between Hamas and Israel 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.
Le Drian’s words came on the same day US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed his support to ‘two-state solution’ which refers to creation of two separate states for Israelis and Arabs.
Israel’s latest offensive against Hamas killed 248 people in the Gaza Strip, including 66 children, and wounded over 1,900, the Hamas-run health ministry said.
Meanwhile, rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups into Israel killed 12 and wounded around 357 others, Israeli police said.
(With inputs from agencies)