The country must decide on its borders or it risks destruction, Tamir Pardo warns
The treatment of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank makes Israel an apartheid state, Tamir Pardo, former head of the national intelligence agency Mossad, has claimed.
“There is an apartheid state here,” Pardo, who served as Mossad’s chief between 2011 and 2016, said in an interview with the Associated Press, conducted in the coastal city of Herzliya and published on Wednesday.
“In a territory where two people are judged under two legal systems, that is an apartheid state,” he stated.
Apartheid was a system of institutionalized racial segregation in South Africa from 1948 and 1994, in which the white minority had complete political control over the majority black population.
The former Mossad chief said Israeli Jews can travel freely across the country, except for the blockaded Gaza Strip, while Palestinians require permission to enter Israel and are forced to pass through checkpoints inside the West Bank. The term apartheid is “not extreme, it’s a fact,” he added.
The West Bank, a landlocked territory, has been occupied by Israel since the Arab-Israeli War of 1967.
Pardo did not say whether he harbored such views on Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians when he was in charge of Mossad.
However, he insisted that while in office he repeatedly urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make a decision on Israel’s borders.
The former spymaster warned that the continued occupation of the West Bank creates the risk of the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. “Israel needs to decide what it wants. A country that has no border has no boundaries,” he said.
In July, a study by the Aspenai Online research group predicted that Arab residents of Israel will outnumber Jews in the coming decades, calling it a “demographic bomb” that is tickling.
Netanyahu’s Likud Party has lashed out at Pardo over his interview, saying that “instead of defending Israel and the Israeli military, Pardo slanders Israel.” The ex-Mossad chief “should be ashamed” of himself, the party said in a statement.
Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians has been compared to apartheid on numerous occasions, including by human right groups, the UN and South Africa itself. Israeli authorities claim that its Jewish and Arab populations enjoy equal rights, while attributing the harsh security measures in the West Bank to the constant terrorist threat.