Israel blasts French ambassador over ‘apartheid’ accusation

The French ambassador to Israel was summoned to the Foreign Ministry over her colleague’s recent “apartheid” statement.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israel’s Foreign Ministry summoned French Ambassador Hélène Le Gal on Monday over an accusation made France’s ambassador to the US that Israel an “apartheid state.” Gérard Araud made the accusation in an interview in The Atlantic, a respected American magazine.

Araud, who served as France’s ambassador to Israel from 2003 to 2006, commented to The Atlantic on the chances of success for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations once President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” is unveiled, claiming, “The problem is that the disproportion of power is such between the two sides that the strongest may conclude that they have no interest to make concessions.”

He added, “[T]he fact that the status quo is extremely comfortable for Israel. Because they [can] have the cake and eat it. They have [Judea and Samaria], but at the same time they don’t have to make the painful decision about the Palestinians, really making them really, totally stateless or making them citizens of Israel. They won’t make them citizens of Israel. So they will have to make it official, which is we know the situation, which is an apartheid. There will be officially an apartheid state. They are in fact already.”

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Araud, the report said, is famous for making blunt remarks “that other ambassadors might not even think, much less state in public.”

In response, Israel’s Foreign Ministry “adamantly protested” Araud’s remarks, summoning Le Gal, according to a ministry spokesman.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Araud insisted he had made a distinction between “Israel,” which he said “is obviously not an apartheid state,” and the territory it liberated from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War.

He also expressed astonishment at the reaction his words engendered.

“I am not backpedaling,” he wrote in one post. “Israel is not an apartheid state. Why [is] this issue… attracting so much passion from both sides?”

In another tweet, he expressed clear support for the Palestinian narrative regarding Judea and Samaria.

“In 52 years of occupation, what has been incrementally imposed on [Judea and Samaria] through the colonization is: two people, two laws on the same territory with one people dominating the other,” he wrote.

The French embassy did not put out a statement on the incident.