Former head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency Tamir Pardo, AP
"There is an apartheid state here," Tamir Pardo said in an interview. "In a territory where two people are judged under two legal systems, that is an apartheid state."
Pardo said that as Mossad chief, he repeatedly warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he needed to decide what Israel's borders were or risk the destruction of a state for the Jews.
He noted that if Israel doesn't set borders between it and the Palestinians, Israel's existence as a Jewish state will be in danger.
"Israel needs to decide what it wants. A country that has no border has no boundaries," Pardo said.
Furthermore, the former Mossad Chief said Israeli citizens can get into a car and drive wherever they want, excluding the blockaded Gaza Strip, but that Palestinians can't drive everywhere. He said that his views on the system in the West Bank were "not extreme. It’s a fact."
Tamir Pardo becomes the latest former senior official to have concluded that Israel's treatment of 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank amounts to apartheid.
A handful of former Israeli leaders, diplomats, and security men have warned that Israel risks becoming an apartheid state, but Pardo's language was even more blunt.
Netanyahu's Likud party issued a statement condemning Pardo's comments. "Instead of defending Israel and the Israeli military, Pardo slanders Israel," it said. "Pardo. You should be ashamed."
Leading rights groups in Israel and abroad and Palestinians have accused Israel and its 56-year occupation of the West Bank of morphing into an apartheid system, that they say gives Palestinians second-class status.
Israel's top politicians blamed Netanyahu over Hamas' surprise attacks on 7 October, holding him responsible for "the greatest failure in the history of Israel".
Moreover, the editorial page of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz accused Netanyahu of a political and security failure after Hamas' attack, that left hundreds of Israelis dead and wounded.