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Outgoing French ambassador to US says Israel becoming an 'apartheid state'

Israel has occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967. [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 April, 2019

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The outgoing French ambassador to the US, Gerard Araud, has said that Israel is an apartheid state.

French Ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud, has said that Israel is an apartheid state, in candid comments during an interview with The Atlantic as he prepares to step down from his role in Washington. 

The French ambassador, who is about to end his five year tenure in Washington DC, spoke to the American magazine about US President Donald Trump's peace plan and the political status of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Araud said that Israel has no interest in making concessions in the peace process due to the power imbalance between them and the Palestinian Authority.

If Israel annexes parts of the occupied West Bank, as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised in his recent re-election campaign, then Palestinians would either become "stateless" or "citizens of Israel".

"They [Israel] won't make them citizens of Israel. So they will have to make it official, which is we know the situation, which is an apartheid," Araud told The Atlantic.

"There will be officially an apartheid state. They are in fact already."

The outgoing ambassador said he also believed that the long-awaited Trump peace plan is doomed to fail as the "more powerful [party] is imposing terms on the weaker party".

"That's the basis of Jared Kushner's (peace plan) - it will be a proposal very close to what the Israelis want. Is it doomed to fail? I should say 99 percent yes, but 1 percent, you never forget the 1 percent," Araud said.

"He (Trump) is totally transactional. He is more popular than (Binyamin) Netanyahu in Israel, so the Israelis trust him. That's the first bet, Kushner told me," Araud told The Atlantic.

"The second is that the Palestinians may consider, it's their last chance to get limited sovereignty. And the third element is Kushner is going to pour money on the Palestinians. Don't forget, the Arabs are behind the Americans," Araud said. 

The Palestinians have refused to talk to the Trump administration since the US president recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017, with Palestinian officials saying the US peace plan is doomed to fail.

Accusing the US of a pro-Israel bias, the Palestinian Authority has said the US should no longer act as a main mediator in stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The Trump administration has since dealt a series of blows to the Palestinian Authority, including cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for the Palestinians.

Last month, Trump officially recognised Israel's sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights. The Golan Heights is a territory that Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

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