Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday denounced French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian for saying earlier this week that Israel is at risk of long-lasting apartheid if a Palestinian state is not established.

Iran PressMiddle East: Le Drian remarks made him one of the first senior French officials to use the term “apartheid” in reference to Israel.

Speaking at an event in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu expressed “a strong protest against the French government and the comments of the French foreign minister on television.”

Related news: Human Rights Watch accuses Israel of apartheid crimes against Palestinians

The Israeli regime has long denied apartheid accusations, claiming that its Arab minority enjoys full civil rights, as well as the term “occupation” to describe its activities in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israeli regime considers the West Bank to be disputed territory subject to peace negotiations — which collapsed more than a decade ago. Israel also points to the existence of the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank under the Oslo Accords.