The new Israeli ambassador has defended his nation against accusations of apartheid, saying it is a “democratic country that respects human rights”.
Amir Maimon said Australian political leaders had made clear Israel should not be called an “apartheid state” despite an Amnesty International report this month accusing it of subjecting Palestinians to policies of “segregation, dispossession and exclusion”.
The ambassador also told The Canberra Times the embassy would keep funding cultural events in Australia despite backlash and artist boycotts last month over its sponsorship deal with the Sydney Festival.
Mr Maimon, who arrived in Australia in January, presented his credentials to the Governor-General yesterday in Canberra.
Asked about the Amnesty International report in an interview before the ceremony, Mr Maimon said both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Labor foreign affairs spokesperson Penny Wong had made clear there was no place to label Israel an “apartheid state”.
“I’m not saying that we are perfect, and we are not perfect, and I believe that there are many avenues where we can do better,” Mr Maimon said.
“But Israel is a democratic country that respects human rights, and you should come and visit Israel and you see the coexistence in a very friendly and sometimes even loving relationship between the different minorities.”