Mossad ex-spy chief ‘apartheid’ comments stir controversy

The Palestinian Authority welcomed the remarks by a former head of Israel’s spy agency, who qualified the situation in the occupied West Bank as „apartheid”.

Tamir Pardo, former head of Mossad, who led the Israeli spy agency between 2011 and 2016, qualified the legal situation in the occupied West Bank as „apartheid”. The Palestinian Authority welcomed his remarks, while Israelis denounced the comments, reports the Times of Malta.

„There is an apartheid state here”, referred Pardo to the Palestinian territory Israel has occupied since 1967 in an interview. „In a territory where two people are judged under two legal systems, that is an apartheid state,” he said.

According to Ahmed al-Deek, a top Palestinian Authority official, Pardo is among an „increasing number of Israeli officials” who express such a view.

In 2021, the US-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) joined some Palestinian and Israeli NGOs in adopting the term „apartheid” to describe Israel’s policies towards Palestinians and the country’s Arab minority. A year later, Amnesty International followed suit with a report on the subject. The Israeli government promptly condemned the organisation’s claims, highlighting that the report’s statements sought to „deny the right of existence of the state of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people”, accusing the organisation of modern antisemitism.

Pardo publicly opposed the new government’s judicial reforms, which stirred controversy in Israel. Netanyahu’s administration favours settlement expansion and some advocate the annexation of the West Bank. The ex-chief joined other Israeli officials who have expressed concerns that Israel risked becoming an apartheid state, but Pardo went further than most of them.

The comments drew condemnation in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party dubbed them „shameful and false „. „Hospitals in Israel treat Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians in the same way. Arabs and Jews study and work together in Israel,” the right-wing party said in a statement.

In a joint statement, senior officers from the Israeli army, police and other security services said the remarks were „pitiful and baseless „. The statement said, „Pardo’s allegations are detached from reality” and „a vile defamation of the State of Israel and its security forces”. His remarks were „based on personal political views”, the officers argued.