American actor and humanitarian activist Richard Gere has described illegal Israeli settlement “an absurd provocation”, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported on Sunday.
In an interview with the paper, Gere said: “Obviously, this occupation is destroying everyone. There is no defence of this occupation.”
Addressing the issue of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, he said: “Settlements are such an absurd provocation and, certainly in the international sense, completely illegal.”
They [settlements] are certainly not part of the programme of someone who wants a genuine peace process.
Gere said that he does not like violence and noted that the Israelis should feel secure, but stressed that this must not be at the expense of the Palestinians.
“I denounce violence on all sides of this,” he said, “and, of course, Israelis should feel secure. But Palestinians should not feel desperate.”
While speaking to Haaretz, Gere defended the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence, which exposes crimes committed by the Israeli soldiers against Palestinians on the ground.
He said that he was appalled by the demonisation of the group by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others.
“To question authority makes you a traitor?” he asked. “If you question bad policies you are a self-hating Jew? That is insane. And, of course it is the last resort of tyrants.”
Gere also criticised American President Donald Trump because of his unbalanced policies regarding refugees.
“Trump has made ‘refugee’ and ‘terrorist’ the same meaning,” he said, “it was not so long ago that ‘refugee’ was someone who was running from a fire. Someone who needed help… And now that person is a terrorist, a dangerous person, someone to be shunned and kept out.”
“Everybody needs to speak out, no matter what their job description is,” he said.