“I wouldn’t call this apartheid,” the Associated Press quoted politician Mansour Abbas as saying in response to a question at an online event organized by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a DC-based think tank. He indicated that he is a member of the coalition and could join the same government if he wanted to.
“I prefer describing reality in objective ways,” he added, according to the English translation of his notes. “If there is discrimination in a particular domain, we will say that there is discrimination in that particular domain.”
He did not say whether he believed the term applied to the West Bank, where more than 2.5 million Palestinians live alongside nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers who hold Israeli citizenship.
Abbas heads the United Arab List, known in Hebrew as the Ra’am Party, a small party with roots in the Brotherhood that has provided crucial support to the coalition now ruling Israel, which includes parties from across the political spectrum.
Arabs make up about 20% of Israel’s population of about 9.5 million. They have citizenship, including the right to vote, and have a large presence in the medical profession and universities, among other fields.