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Former Mossad chief accuses Israel of apartheid in West Bank, Likud hits back

Tamir Pardo defends his statement, says they are 'not extreme. It’s a fact.'

Tamir Pardo, former Mossad director, gives a statement to the media about the petitions filed against the Reasonableness bill at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, August 8, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The State of Israel is directing an apartheid system in the West Bank, former Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

“There is an apartheid state here,” Pardo said in the interview. “In a territory where two people are judged under two legal systems, that is an apartheid state.”

He said his comments were “not extreme. It’s a fact.”

According to Pardo, the situation that Israeli citizens can get into a car and drive anywhere in the country, while Palestinians don’t have the same freedom, constitutes apartheid.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir was recently met with a wave of criticism for saying that his family's freedom of movement, including the right not to get killed while driving in the West Bank, trumped the Palestinians’ right to free movement.

Pardo told AP that he saw the Palestinian issue as a bigger threat than Iran’s nuclear program and that when he was the Mossad chief, he warned Netanyahu repeatedly to decide where Israel’s borders are, so as not to risk the Jewish nature of the state.

Pardo refused to answer if he held the same beliefs while serving as the head of Mossad.

The Likud party strongly condemned Pardo’s comments, saying, “Instead of defending the State of Israel and the IDF, Pardo slanders Israel.”

“We strongly condemn the shameful and false statement of Tamir Pardo. No country in the world acts against terrorism at the high level of morality at which Israel acts. The IDF acts morally to protect the citizens of Israel while preventing harm to the innocent. Hospitals in Israel treat Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians alike. Arabs and Jews study and work together in Israel. Shame on you.”

Pardo served as Mossad chief from 2011-2016. Since stepping down from his post, he has been one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's most vocal critics. He has also become a prominent face of the anti-judicial reform movement.

In July, he said Netanyahu had “taken the Ku Klux Klan and brought them into the government,” referring to Ben Gvir, Financial Minister Bezalel Smotrich, and others.

Pardo also warned that abolishing the reasonableness standard “constitutes the end of democracy” and that Israel would “be similar to Iran and Hungary – ostensibly a democracy, but in practice a dictatorship.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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