Israeli Arab Gov’t Member: ‘Israel is not an apartheid state’

Ra’am Party leader and Israeli Knesset Member Mansour Abbas, has rejected the claim that the State of Israel was guilty of being apartheid, pointing out the obvious, that his Israeli-Arab party was a member of the current Israeli government.



Ra’am Party leader and Israeli Knesset Member Mansour Abbas, has rejected the claim that the State of Israel was guilty of the crime of apartheid within its sovereign borders.

“I would not call it apartheid,” he said during a virtual talk he gave at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on Thursday.

He pointed out the obvious, that he led an Israeli-Arab party that was a member of the government’s coalition.

Dr. Mansour Abbas from the Joint List parliamentary group is the chairman of the United-Arab-List in the Knesset. – Photo: Danny Shem-Tov, Knesset Spokesperson’s Office

“I am within the coalition,” he said, adding that the option exists for Israeli-Arabs to also be ministers in the government.

He was quizzed about the issue during his talk, in light of Amnesty International’s report last month which accused Israel of the crime of apartheid both within sovereign Israel and within the West Bank and Gaza.

Human Rights Watch and the Israeli NGO B’Tselem have made similar claims.

Abbas was asked if he felt the term apartheid aptly described the relationship between Arabs and Jews within sovereign Israel.

Mansour said that the was not a fan of exploring the situation from the broad macro level such as apartheid or racism, but preferred instead to take a hands-on approach to solve discrimination at the micro-level.

Such accusations, he said, do not help resolve the issues.

Reports such as the one published by Amnesty or others outline areas of discrimination that should be addressed.

“This is an opportunity for us to look at what is happening and to be introspective to see what we can fix and change,” he said.

“I do not have the privilege to judge people. But I have the wish, a desire to accomplish this change together with them. I will change, you will change. It is not that I am the good one and you are the bad one. Our fate here is to live together and we can decide how we want to live together,” Abbas said.

When it comes to the larger Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Abbas said, he tends to rely on the framework set by the international community and international law.

“They can describe the situation that exists according to international law, but what is true in my view is not to say what is right or not right, but to do whatever is useful.”


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