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UN ESCWA chief resigns over report on ‘apartheid’ Israel

UN Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf speaks in Beirut, Lebanon, on 17 March 2017. Khalaf resigned under pressure from officials after an ESCWA report named Israel an 'apartheid' state [Muhammed Ali Akman/Anadolu Agency]
UN Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf on March 17, 2017 [Muhammed Ali Akman/Anadolu Agency]

The head of the United Nation’s West Asia commission resigned today after what she described as pressure from the secretary-general to withdraw a report accusing Israel of imposing an “apartheid regime” on Palestinians.

The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), which comprises 18 Arab states, published the report on Wednesday and said it was the first time a UN body had clearly made the charge.

UN Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf announced her resignation at a news conference in Beirut.

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UN chief Antonio Guterres accepted the resignation, a UN spokesman said.

“This is not about content, this is about process,” said Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

“The secretary-general cannot accept that an under-secretary-general or any other senior UN official that reports to him would authorize the publication under the UN name, under the UN logo, without consulting the competent departments and even himself,” he told reporters.

Download the full UN ESCWA report

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