Israeli ambassador brands accusations of country as apartheid state the 'biggest lie'

13 May 2021, 22:09 | Updated: 13 May 2021, 22:18

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Israel's ambassador has told Iain Dale that she has not heard "a bigger lie" than people accusing the country of being an apartheid state that practices ethnic cleansing.

Speaking to Iain and callers in an hour-long show on Thursday, Tzipi Hotovely refuted allegations made by some on social media that Israel is enforcing segregation within its borders.

Violence in the country has escalated throughout the week, with Palestinian militants in Gaza firing around 1000 rockets at Israel after airstrikes killed their senior military figures.

Dozens have died in the most severe outbreak of violence since the 50-day war in 2014, with no resolution in sight and both sides talking up the prospect of a full-scale conflict.

By Thursday morning, the death toll in Gaza rose to 69 Palestinians, including 16 children and six women, according to the territory's health ministry.

This evening, Iain Dale asked the ambassador if she understood why people use the word 'apartheid' to describe Israel, given that Palestinians are sometimes removed from their properties and claim they do not have the same rights as Israeli citizens.

Watch again: Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely speaks to LBC

Read more: Dozens die as Israel intensifies airstrikes and Hamas militants unleash rockets

Tzipi Hotovely refuted allegations that Israel is an apartheid state
Tzipi Hotovely refuted allegations that Israel is an apartheid state. Picture: LBC

She replied: "I can tell you that never in my life have I heard a bigger lie, so let's speak about the facts: Israel is a democracy.

"Not a long time ago, the third-largest party in Israel was the Arab United Party. So, if they're speaking about any unequal situation, they need to bring proof and facts.

"Nobody is bringing facts or proof because there are none."

Ms Hotovely said Arab citizens, be they men or women, have equal rights in Israel, equal representation in Parliament and equal representation in other places of leadership, such as the Israeli Supreme Court.

"We are proud of that," she added.

"We are proud of our democracy and we are proud of our co-existence. At the moment, radicals are trying to shatter this co-existence and trying to incite and say 'Israel is now in a civil war'.

"We're not interested in that."

The ambassador told Iain that the Israeli government is calling on Arab leaders in the country to tell those who "are now marching in the streets and calling on Jews to be killed" to stop the threats and violence.

"You need to say something clear. We've built so much together in 73 years. Continue this co-existence."