France sees 'risk of apartheid' in Israel

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaks out, while Israel denies policy of racial discrimination

File photo: French Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian speaks during a joint press conference with Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney. AFP
File photo: French Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian speaks during a joint press conference with Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney. AFP

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Sunday said there was a risk of "long-lasting apartheid" in Israel if the Palestinians were denied their own state.

Mr Le Drian is one of the first senior French officials to use the term "apartheid" in reference to Israel, which has angrily denied any policy of racial discrimination.

He made the remarks to 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.

The violence, which showed simmering anger among Israeli Arabs over the crackdown on Palestinians in Jerusalem, shattered years of peaceful coexistence in Israel.

"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," Mr Le Drian said.

He said the "risk of apartheid is high" if Israel continued to act "according to a single-state logic".

"Even the status quo produces that," Mr Le Drian said.

He said the 11-day conflict between Hamas and Israel showed the need to revive the Middle East peace process.

"We have take one step at a time," Mr Le Drian said, expressing satisfaction that US President Joe Biden had affirmed support for a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Israel's latest offensive against Hamas killed 248 people in the Gaza Strip, including 66 children, and wounded more than 1,900, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said.

Meanwhile, rockets fired by Palestinian militias into Israel killed 12 and wounded about 357, Israeli police said.

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Updated: May 24, 2021 02:48 AM

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