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Rights group: UN pressured to withdraw report saying Israel 'apartheid' state

Image of the apartheid wall in West Bank
The apartheid wall in the West Bank [file photo]

The European-Mediterranean Observatory for Human Rights (EMOHR) said on Friday that the UN had come under pressure to withdraw its report accusing Israel of imposing an "apartheid regime" on Palestinians, Turkey's state-owned Anadolu reported.

The rights group, which is based in Geneva and has many offices across the Middle East, expressed its regret about UN chief Antonio Guterres' request for the Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) to withdraw its report.

"The UN asked the ESCWA to withdraw a report accusing Israel of imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinians and to disown its content despite the fact it was prepared based on scientific and professional approaches," the group said.

Read: UN ESCWA chief resigns over report on 'apartheid' Israel

This request pushed the ESCWA chief Rima Khalaf to announce her resignation at a news conference in Beirut.

"Khalaf has been one of the most prominent independent and objective individuals [in the UN] and her resignation is a blow to international justice," the Observatory said.

Immediately, after announcing her resignation, Guterres accepted the resignation without any review.

"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 authorise the publication under the UN name, under the UN logo, without consulting the competent departments and even himself," he told reporters.

On Wednesday,  ESCWA, which comprises 18 Arab states, published the report describing Israel as an "apartheid" state, which was the first time a UN body had clearly made the charge.

Download the full UN ESCWA report

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