Israel Enforcing ‘Apartheid State’ Against Palestinians, Ex-Director of Mossad Says

“In a territory where two people are judged under two legal systems, that is an apartheid state,” said Tamir Pardo, who was appointed by Netanyahu in 2011.
A wall divides the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel. PHOTO: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images.

The former head of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, has accused Israel of imposing an apartheid system on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. 

“There is an apartheid state here,” Tamir Pardo told the Associated Press. “In a territory where two people are judged under two legal systems, that is an apartheid state.”


Pardo was the director of Mossad from 2011 to 2016. He was appointed to the role by Benjamin Netanyahu, who was Israel’s prime minister then and is currently in the role as the head of a coalition government propped up by far-right parties.

Apartheid refers to the system of racial segregation enforced in South Africa that ensured the country’s white minority dominated society. It ended in the early 1990s, and left deep scars on the nation. 

Seizures of Palestinian land and property, along with unlawful killings, restrictions on movement, and the denial of nationality and citizenship to Palestinians have all been severely criticised, and compared to the old South African system by rights groups including Amnesty International.

Pardo’s comments are significant because of his former ties to the incumbent Prime Minister, and the high regard with which Mossad is held within Israel. 

His remarks come as Israel’s lurch to the right sees the government try to strengthen its hold over territories in the occupied West Bank. Israeli settlements in the West Bank – an area split into 165 Palestinian enclaves – are considered illegal by the international community.


Pardo described his opinions on the West Bank as, “not extreme. It’s a fact.”

Israelis cannot enter areas of the West Bank fully controlled by Palestinian authorities, but can enter parts of the West Bank controlled by Israel. Palestinians cannot enter Israel without permission and have to go through checkpoints to enter different zones within the West Bank, which is often an arduous and stressful process.

Netanyahu’s Likud party put out a statement criticising Pardo’s remarks. “Instead of defending Israel and the Israeli military, Pardo slanders Israel,” it said. “Pardo. You should be ashamed.”

Pardo added that a lack of definitive borders with the Palestinian territories means Israel’s future is uncertain. “Israel needs to decide what it wants. A country that has no border has no boundaries,” he told the AP.