Photo Credit: Asher Schwartz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu harshly criticized French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian for saying Israel was on the way to becoming an apartheid state.

Speaking in a televised interview, Le Drian said that “if in the future we had a solution other than the two-state solution, we would have the ingredients of long-lasting apartheid.”

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The “risk of apartheid is high,” if Israel were to continue to act “according to a single-state logic,” he added.

Netanyahu expressed his “sharp protest against the remarks” during an event on Wednesday evening and said that Le Drian’s claims were “brazen” and “false” and “without any foundation.”

“In the State of Israel, all citizens are equal before the law, regardless of their origin. The State of Israel is the beacon of democracy and human rights in our region, the only democracy in our region. Thus it has always been – and thus it will always be,” he underscored.

“We will not tolerate any hypocritical and mendacious preaching of morality on this matter,” he concluded.

Such claims have been leveled against Israel in the past, and anti-Israel elements have propagated this concept in an attempt to harm the Jewish state.

Speaking in April 2017, Jacques De Maio, who headed the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation to Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) rejected claims that Israel has instated an apartheid regime against the Palestinians.

“There isn’t a regime here that is based on the superiority of one race over another; there is no disenfranchisement of basic human rights based on so-called racial inferiority,” he said.

“The Red Cross was very familiar with the regime in South Africa during apartheid, and we respond to anyone who makes the argument that Israel is an apartheid state: No, there is no apartheid here,” he stated.

Israeli Arabs are employed by and receive service at all government offices. They study at all universities, including Ariel University in Samaria, and serve as judges, IDF officers and parliamentarians.

Frederik Willem de Klerk, the last president of apartheid South Africa, stated in June 2015 that imposing sanctions against Israel was no way to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that labeling Israel an apartheid state was repugnant.

“Comparisons are odious and I wouldn’t like to draw direct comparisons” between Israel and apartheid South Africa, he said.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.