Actor Richard Gere lashes out at Israel over settlements

The Pretty Woman star described settlements as 'an absurd provocation'

Actor Richard Gere (L), director Joseph Cedar (C) and actor Lior Ashkenazi hold a news conference following the screening of the film 'Norman: The Moderate Rise And Tragic Fall Of A New York Fixer' at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on March 9, 2017. Nir Elias / Reuters
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JERUSALEM // Hollywood actor Richard Gere has lashed out at Israel over its settlements in territory that Palestinians want for a state.

"There's no defence of this occupation," Israel's Haaretz newspaper quoted the Pretty Woman star on Sunday as saying.

“Settlements are such an absurd provocation ... and they are certainly not part of the programme of someone who wants a genuine peace process.”

“Palestinians should not feel desperate,” he added.

Gere was in Jerusalem for the local premiere of a new film by Israeli writer-director Joseph Cedar in which he stars.

According to Haaretz, many people advised Gere not to travel to Israel to attend the premiere for fear that he "would be co-opted by a dark government."

Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.

* Associated Press