‘’Israel is not an apartheid state, it is a democratic state,’’ said Israeli Minister of Regional Cooperation Issawi Freij as he addressed this week a group of 26 journalists from several European countries in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament in Jerusalem.
The group of journalists is in Israel for a geopolitical trip organized by the Europe Israel Press Assoiciation (EIPA).
“Israel cannot be attacked over and over again on the grounds that it is an apartheid state,’’ he said in response to a report by Amnesty last month which called Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians ‘’apartheid.’’An accusation slammed by the Israeli government who said that Amnesty was “reporting the lies spread by terrorist organizations.
Freij, who is an Arab Israeli Muslim from the village of Kfar Kassem and a member of the left-wing Meretz party, in the coalition led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that ‘’we have a lot of problems, I know that. We have racism, we have the nationality law. We have a lot of problems to solve. But between a country with problems and defining Israel as an apartheid state, there is a big gap.’’
He stressed the need to build trust between Israelis and Palestinians. ‘’I hope that one day we can see Palestinians and Israelis live as good neighbors here.’’
He also acknowledged that the Palestinian Authority ‘’made a mistake’’ not to be part of the Abraham Accords between Israel and several Arab countries. ‘’The Palestinians now are in the worst situation,’’ he said. ‘’The two-state solution is good for Israel and for the Palestinians.’’