UN Chief Wants World Body Report Slamming Israel As Apartheid State Withdrawn After US Protests

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U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrive for a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2017.  REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrive for a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Jordanian UN official Rima Khalaf announced her resignation Friday, saying the secretary general had asked her to withdraw a report in which she accused Israel of being an “apartheid state”. The United States, an ally of Israel, said it was outraged by the report.

NEW YORK (Reuters) — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has asked the UN regional commission that represents most Arab countries to remove from its website a report accusing Israel of practising an “apartheid regime” against Palestinians, a UN official said on Friday.

The report for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), which comprises 18 Arab states, concluded that “Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole”.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York that the report was published without any prior consultation with the UN secretariat.

“The report as it stands does not reflect the views of the secretary-general (Antonio Guterres),” said Dujarric, adding that the report itself notes that it reflects the views of the authors.

The United States, an ally of Israel, said it was outraged by the report.

The accusation – often directed against Israel by its critics – has never before been made by a United Nations body.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Wednesday the report was published without prior consultation with the UN secretariat.

Israel’s foreign ministry spokesman likened the report to a Nazi propaganda publication that was strongly anti-Semitic and described it as “despicable and a blatant lie”.

UN Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf had remarked that the report was the “first of its type” from a UN body that “clearly and frankly concludes that Israel is a racist state that has established an apartheid system that persecutes the Palestinian people”.

The report was prepared at the request of member states, she had said.

The report was still visible on ESCWA’s website on Friday.

UN official quits over ‘Israel apartheid’ report

Jordanian UN official Rima Khalaf announced her resignation Friday, saying the secretary general had asked her to withdraw a report in which she accused Israel of being an “apartheid state”.

“The secretary general asked me yesterday morning to withdraw (the report). I asked him to rethink his decision, he insisted, so I submitted my resignation from the UN,” said Khalaf.

“We expected of course that Israel and its allies would put huge pressure on the secretary general of the UN so that he would disavow the report, and that they would ask him to withdraw it,” she added.

Israel’s UN envoy Danny Danon welcomed Khalaf’s resignation.

“Anti-Israel activists do not belong in the UN. It is time to put an end to practice in which UN officials use their position to advance their anti-Israel agenda,” Danon said.

“Over the years Khalaf has worked to harm Israel and advocate for the BDS movement. Her removal from the UN is long overdue,” he added.

BDS – Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – is a Palestinian-led movement that lobbies for the boycott of Israel over its occupation of Palestinian land.

It says on its website that BDS was “inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement”.

Based in Beirut, ESCWA is comprised of 18 Arab countries, according to its website, which lists the state of Palestine as a full member, and works to strengthen cooperation and promote development.

“The United States is outraged by the report,” Washington’s UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement on Wednesday.

“That such anti-Israel propaganda would come from a body whose membership nearly universally does not recognize Israel is unsurprising,” she said.

One of the authors is Richard Falk, a former special UN rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.

Haley in Wednesday’s statement described Falk as “a man who has repeatedly made biased and deeply offensive comments about Israel and espoused ridiculous conspiracy theories”.

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