Israeli-Arab MK Jamal Zahalka was invited to speak at one of the events marking the week in Montréal on Thursday.
“Calling the occupation apartheid isn’t an overstatement, it’s an understatement,” Zahalka told Ynet, “The Israeli occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are worse than apartheid.”
“Israel Apartheid Week” will be comprised of several events including lectures, informational booths, cultural events, film screenings and demonstrations held at various North American and European campuses.
Organizer’s of the events said on the week’s official website, “The past few years have seen an explosion of literature and analysis that has placed Israel alongside other settler-colonial states like South Africa, arguing that Israel is in fact an apartheid state, not just a belligerent occupying power.”
According to the organizers, the week’s goal was to “push forward the analysis of Israel as an apartheid state and to bolster support for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign in accordance with the demands outlined in the July 2005 Statement: full equality for Arab citizens of Israel, an end to the occupation and colonization of the West Bank and Gaza, and the implementation of the right of return and compensation for Palestinian refugees pursuant to UN resolution 194.”
Zahalka told Ynet he would speak about the situation in the territories during his speech in Montréal. “An apartheid situation exists in the West Bank. There are settlements and there are Palestinians, and there is a complete separation between them,” he said.
“There are roads for Jews only, there are checkpoints, and there is a curfew. The population is separated. The human rights of the Palestinians are completely violated,” Zahalka added.
He also pointed out that during the apartheid, blacks and whites were separated, but the current situation was of Palestinians being separated from Palestinians, through the use of fences, roadblocks, and limited travel.
“It’s worse,” he said, “Even those arriving from South Africa say the situation in the occupied territories is worse than the apartheid.”
Zahalka said it was his dream for there to be equality amongst Palestinians and Israelis, and that he wanted Israel to be a country for all its citizens.
Dana Zimmerman contributed to this article