“There will be debate that is unprecedented in its venom and in its radioactivity around the words ‘Israel as an apartheid state,’” the foreign minister said.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Monday that one of Israel’s biggest challenges in 2022 will be fending of charges of being an ‘apartheid’ state.
“We think that in the coming year, there will be debate that is unprecedented in its venom and in its radioactivity around the words ‘Israel as an apartheid state,’” Lapid told Israeli reporters in a press briefing.
This “disgusting lie,” as he termed it, was being pushed very heavily by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its supporters in the international diplomatic arena. This, he said, includes the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague and the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), both of which are set to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes in the near future.
The ICC last year accepted the PA’s position to examine whether the IDF’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza against Hamas terrorism in 2014, as well as the entire settlement movement, were indictable crimes. And in December, the UN’s General Assembly approved the establishment of an open-ended commission of inquiry on Israeli actions against Palestinian terrorism during May’s Operation Guardian of the Walls, to be run by the UNHRC.
The unprecedented decision goes much further however, as it calls for submissions of evidence of any crimes ever allegedly committed by Israeli officials at any point in the past, back to the “root causes” of the conflict, and covers all possible future events as well.
In general, Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz told the briefing, “In the coming year, we expect to see resolutions and processes with the potential to cause significant damage, and there is real danger an official UN body will determine Israel is an apartheid state.”
According to the ministry, such a declaration could come from the notoriously anti-Israel UNHRC, one of the international courts, or even possibly the UN Security Council, although the United States has a veto there and could be expected to use it to protect Israel if such a resolution was raised.
Lapid himself seemed of two minds about how to treat the PA regarding its ongoing efforts to blacken Israel’s reputation in this manner. He called those who claimed that Israel practices apartheid “a group of antisemites” whom “I don’t take lightly.”
He also recognized the PA’s hypocrisy, saying, “On one hand, they talk about promoting [peace] talks, and on the other hand, they file petitions against Israel at The Hague and pay salaries to terrorists. This is the challenge the Foreign Ministry faces, and it is headed in our direction.”
Yet he also told the reporters, “Without diplomatic dialogue with the Palestinians,” this [apartheid] threat “will only grow more severe.”
He acknowledged, however, that as the current coalition consists of right-wing as well as left-wing factions, any such talks could not be translated into new government policy, even when he becomes prime minister in August of next year, despite his well-known support for the “two-state solution.”