Israel Rebukes French Ambassador Over Apartheid Comment

YERUSHALAYIM -

The foreign ministry rebuked France’s ambassador to Yerushalayim for accusations of “apartheid” against Israel made by the outgoing French ambassador to Washington, The Times of Israel reported on Tuesday.

French Ambassador Hélène Le Gal was summoned by Deputy Director-General Rodica Radian-Gordon, who heads the ministry’s European department.

In an April 19 interview with The Atlantic magazine, the French envoy to the U.S., Gérard Araud,& said Israel was “extremely comfortable” with the status quo “because& they [can] have the cake and eat it. They have the West Bank, 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,” Araud claimed.

“We strongly protested these words,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said Tuesday.

In response to the Israeli foreign ministry, Araud defended his comments, saying that “I was referring to the West Bank.”

Nahshon shot back on Twitter that in the interview he was clearly referring to Israel. “You know fully well that 90 percent of West Bank Palestinians are under PA [Palestinian Authority] rule. You know that the PA refuses systematically peace negotiations. Your statement was offensive and uncalled for,” the Israeli diplomat wrote.

Araud replied: “Sorry. It was in the context of the peace process. I am not ashamed of my opinion and I know very well the issue. Yes, the West Bank. No Israël.”

In the interview, Araud also had his say on the Trump administration’s peace plan, which he said will be “very close to what the Israelis want,” and is 99 percent “doomed to fail.”

Araud asserted that White House advisor Jared Kushner, an architect of the plan, “doesn’t know the history” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “and in a sense, it’s good — we are not here to say who is right, who is wrong; we are trying to find a way [toward a solution].”

“So in a sense, I like it, but at the same time he is so rational, and he is so pro-Israeli also, that he may neglect the point that if you offer the Palestinians the choice between surrendering and committing suicide, they may decide the latter. Somebody like Kushner doesn’t understand that,” he said.