Israel Reprimands French Envoy Over FM's Apartheid Remarks

After Jean-Yves Le Drian suggested Israel might become an apartheid state if a two-state solution isn't reached, Gabi Ashkenazi says remarks are 'unacceptable and distort the truth'

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi in IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, last week.
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi in IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, last week.Credit: Hadas Parush
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi reprimanded Thursday French Ambassador to Israel Eric Danon after France's foreign minister had said that Israel might become an apartheid state if a two-state solution is not reached.

Ashkenazi said Jean-Yves Le Drian's remarks were "unacceptable and distort the truth."

"Israel is a democratic, law-abiding country, and I strongly protest any attempt to challenge this fact and the foundations of the State of Israel," Ashkenazi added.

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Israel expects from its friends not to make irresponsible statements and encourage extremist and anti-Israel elements, Israel's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Ashkenazi expressed concerns about the rise of antisemitic incidents in France and stressed that he expected France’s leaders to condemn them and actively crack down on antisemitic.

"France has demonstrably ignored all the measures taken by Israel to prevent the situation from deteriorating, and the foreign minister's remarks, in effect, reward extremists and terrorist organizations, particularly the terrorist organization Hamas," Ashkenazi said.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Le Drian's remarks.

According to Netanyahu, Le Drian's statements were "cheeky, false and baseless." Netanyahu said, "In Israel all citizens are equal before the law, no matter their ethnicity. This is how it always has been, and always will be. We won't tolerate lies or hypocritical, moral preaching on the matter."

The disputed issue of apartheid in the Palestinian territories re-surfaced earlier this year after both the leading Israeli human rights group B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch issued reports stating that Israel is an apartheid state.

Apartheid is deemed a crime against humanity by the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court. The definition has three elements: an intent to maintain domination by one racial group over another; systematic oppression of the group; and inhumane acts.

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