Netanyahu at memorial service for the victims of Altalena
Netanyahu at memorial service for the victims of Altalena Eitan Elhadz/TPS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday fired back at French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who earlier this week warned of the risk of "long-lasting apartheid" in Israel if Palestinian Arabs fail to obtain their own state

"I want to express a strong protest against the French government over the statement of the French Foreign Minister in a television interview. The minister said that Israel could become an apartheid state - a cheeky, false claim that has no basis," said Netanyahu.

"In the State of Israel, all citizens are equal before the law, regardless of their origin. The State of Israel is the beacon of democracy and human rights in our region. The only democracy in our region. This has always been the case - and always will be the case," the Prime Minister added.

"We will not tolerate any hypocritical and false moral sermons in this matter," he clarified.

Le Drian is one of the first senior French officials to use the term "apartheid" in reference to Israel.

The Human Rights Watch organization recently released a report alleging that Israel is committing "apartheid" against Palestinian Arabs.

The US voiced disagreement with the report, saying, "It is not the view of this administration that Israel's actions constitute apartheid."

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