‘Israel gradually becoming apartheid state due to its settlement policy’
RT:John Kerry says he never called Israel an apartheid state, but just said it was at risk of becoming one. Is there any real difference?
Gideon Levy: Yes, there is a difference. There is also a difference between defining Israel as an apartheid state and defining the occupation as an apartheid regime. But what does it really matter? It looks like apartheid, it works like apartheid, so it is apartheid. Israel in its sovereign borders isn’t an apartheid state, not yet. But Israel in the occupied territories is definitely an apartheid regime when there are two peoples, one have all the rights in the world and the other without any civil rights whatsoever. This is apartheid.
RT:The US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki stumbled when grilled over this question. So the US appears to be afraid to strongly criticize Israel. Does that make it harder to make any progress in the peace process?
GL: I think that John Kerry said the truth, and Israel should confront the truth, and the truth is that without the peace process, without this two-state solution Israel is going in this direction, and the world is going to recognize that this is the direction that Israel has chosen. If this is the case, it’s better that Israel understands in time that that’s its fate to become an apartheid sate which no country in the world, maybe not even the US, will recognize.
RT:America has warned of Israeli isolation and even a global boycott. Are Washington and Tel Aviv actually moving apart?
GL: Not yet. You see, even Secretary of State Kerry says something and immediately he finds himself apologizing and regretting what he said, God knows why. I don’t know why he can’t stay behind what he said; he said very clear things about the future, not about the present. I don’t understand what kind of pressure was put on him and how come the Secretary of State can’t stand behind what he said and what is the truth. In any case, fortunately or unfortunately, the relations between Israel and the US is still so strong and so solid, and this will take some more time to see really cracks in this connection.
RT:Israel has approved thousands more settlements after the last negotiations began. Is this the main stumbling block now?
GL: No, it’s only one of them. Israel claims that Mahmoud Abbas took one-sided steps by appealing to some kind of international organizations, but at the same time Israel took the most one-sided and maybe even irreversible step, namely building more and more settlements. There is no other way to judge the real genuine intention of Israel rather than to check its settlements policy. Any time that Israel is building even one more building in the occupied territories, that’s the indication that Israel has no intention whatsoever to retreat and to make peace.
RT:Why can't Kerry stand by his word? Is that because of the Israeli lobby in the US?
GL: That’s really a mystery. I’m not sure that anyone can really answer it because if you judge it in rational terms, how strong can the Israeli lobby be, how powerful can it be? The US also has its own interests and many times those interests are supposed to be contradictory to Israeli interests, and still you see again and again many American politician who dare to say the truth, who dare to criticize Israel even in a very cautious way, immediately has to apologize, to retreat for what he has said. This is really a mystery and I wish I knew the answer. For sure it doesn’t make any sense.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.