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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

International OrganisationsIsraelMiddle EastPalestineUN
  • abu antar

    The pot calling the kettle black.Of all 18 countries members of ESCWA,all declare themselves in their constitutions ,as “Arab” state or “part of the Arab nation”,sovereign ,”Islamic” or that “Islam is it’s religion”. I didn’t make this up. Google “constitution of ” and choose the country.So how is Israel different?
    ESCWA,may have set out to do good but got bogged down by their own “humps”. You can not preach ,demand morals,or ideologies of “equality” to real or presumed oppressed peoples , write them in a “report” all the while Palestinians are second class citizens in our midst. Ooops. not always even citizens, with rights of equal access to education, work, professions, health and movement.See for example Lebanon.By their own definition, all or at least most ESCWA members are “apartheid regimes”- you want to do some good for the Palestinians? start by treating them as human beings and not a tool to divert from your inner problems.
    I don’t think by way of publishing “reports” or shaming, or whatever one calls this, is the way to go about the Palestinian issues.In many cases it backfires

  • Vinegar Hill

    The resignation of Rima Khalaf stinks of Israel lobby pressure. Whenever the truth about Israeli brutalities and viloations of international law are exposed the lobby goes into action.
    It is hard to find a country so repugnant as Israel since the end of the second world war. Since 1948 the rogue, aparthide state of Israel has committed crime after crime and through its effective hasbara it has lied, deceived and distorted the reality of their brutal, blood stained activities against the indigenous Palestinians.

    • Kimberley Waelens

      Indigenous??? the arabs are the colonizers of the middle east.

      • Vinegar Hill

        The issue is about Israel and the Palestinians? Why do you use the collective noun “arabs” to describe the singular Palestinians?
        Within the context of the Israel Palestinian conflict during the mandate period the Palestinian muslims were always the majority and the Palestinian Jews were always the minority. Where are you going witth you inaccuracies and eventual distortions?