Ex-Israeli attorney general urges EU to recognize Palestine

Michael Ben-Yair says ‘apartheid regime’ imposed in West Bank, Palestinian state only a matter of time

Former attorney general Michael Ben-Yair speaks with Channel 2 in an undated interview (screen capture: YouTube)
Former attorney general Michael Ben-Yair speaks with Channel 2 in an undated interview (screen capture: YouTube)

Former Israeli attorney general Michael Ben-Yair has called on the parliament of the European Union to officially recognize the state of Palestine.

Ben-Yair, in a piece published Friday in the EUobserver, an independent online newspaper that covers political life throughout the European Union, said that Israel has imposed an “apartheid regime” on Palestinians in the West Bank and asserted that “the Palestinian people are entitled to a state.

“Political Zionism sought to find a solution to the persecution of Jewish people by establishing a state to renew Jewish political life… [and] sought to actualize its national-historical affiliation with the land of Israel — not at the expense of another nation,” Ben-Yair wrote.

The European Parliament is due to convene on Thursday in Strasbourg, France, and vote on a bill recognizing a Palestinian state. Although the bill’s wording has yet to be finalized, it is believed that it will likely recognize a Palestinian state along 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.

Over 700 Israeli artists, celebrities and professionals — including former military officers, ambassadors, and Knesset members — have signed a petition urging the European Union parliamentarians to support the bill.

The French parliament will vote on a similar bill on Friday or on December 2, the following Tuesday.

The outspoken former attorney general, who served in the position from 1993-1996, also said that political Zionism did not “strive to establish a state within the borders of the biblical ‘Promised Land,'” nor did it seek to control holy sites, including the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a revered structure in the West Bank city of Hebron believed to mark the burial site of six of the seven patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish religion.

The tomb is holy to both Judaism and Islam and has been a flashpoint for violence. Ben-Yair famously petitioned prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1994 to evict all Jewish settlers living in Hebron after an American-born Jewish extremist, Baruch Goldstein, shot dead 29 Palestinian worshipers inside the shrine and injured 125 others.

In his op-ed piece, Ben-Yair also stated that, under the guise of security, Israel has turned the West Bank into a “colonial state,” and said that Palestinian resistance has been a struggle for “national liberation” that will ultimately be realized.

“The only question that remains is what is the bloody price that both nations will pay, up until the liberation of the Palestinian people?” he said.

“With the prolonged occupation, we are not only losing the moral basis for Israel’s existence as a free and just society, but are also seriously jeopardizing chances for the state’s sustainable existence,” Ben-Yair wrote, while commending the United Kingdom, Sweden, Ireland, and Spain for taking measures to recognize a Palestinian state: “This step is not only just, but also protects the national security interests of both nations.”

In April 2013, Ynet highlighted comments the former attorney general had made on his Facebook page calling Jewish settlements in the West Bank “the most evil and foolish acts since World War II.”

Asked if he thought the settlement of the West Bank was in fact worse than Pol Pot’s regime in Cambodia, Stalin’s reign in the Soviet Union or the Darfur genocide, Ben-Yair reaffirmed his statement, adding that “the settlement movement is a political act by a state against another people and as such is the most evil and immoral act since the end of World War II.”

read more: