It is wrong for anyone to refer to Israel as an apartheid state, the man who brought an end to South Africa’s apartheid regime said to Israeli media on Tuesday.
In an interview with Channel 2 News, former South African President Frederik Willem de Klerk suggested that it is nonsensical to label Israel an apartheid state simply because it has closed off the border that the world insists exists between Israel-proper and the “West Bank.”
“You have closed borders, but America has closed borders. They don’t allow every Mexican who wants to come in to come in,” de Klerk pointed out
What’s more important is looking at how Israel, in an official capacity, treats the minorities living within its internationally-recognized borders.
“You have Palestinians living in Israel with full political rights,” de Klerk observed. “They are represented in the Knesset. You don’t have discriminatory laws against them, for example that they may not swim at certain beaches or anything like that.”
The only conclusion that can be drawn? “It’s unfair to call Israel an apartheid state,” said the Nobel Peace laureate. “If [US Secretary of State John] Kerry did so, I think he made a mistake.”
De Klerk was referring to Kerry’s remarks last month when he told a closed-door meeting that if Israel fails to accept a US-brokered two-state solution, “it winds up either being an apartheid state with second class citizens, or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state.”
Israel’s critics were nothing short of delighted that America’s top diplomat had endorsed their position that if it wasn’t already, Israel would soon become an apartheid state.
De Klerk wasn’t sure that any part of Kerry’s assessment was accurate. Even if Israel ends up with a one-state solution, a unitary, mixed nation, it won’t necessarily become an apartheid state.
“The test will be, do everybody living then in such a unitary state…will everybody have full political rights? Will everybody enjoy their full human rights? If they will, it’s not an apartheid state,” he said.
Unlike with South Africa, which is now a mixed state, de Klerk said he felt separation between Israelis and Palestinians, what most call the two-state solution, is likely the best solution. While Israel’s detractors say it is already an apartheid state, that label would actually better fit the two-state solution they advocate.