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U.N. official resigns after report accusing Israel of apartheid

By
Allen Cone
Rima Khalaf, an under secretary-general of the United Nations and executive secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, announced her resignation after a report from the agency described Israel as an apartheid regime. Photo by Nabil Mounzer/EPA
Rima Khalaf, an under secretary-general of the United Nations and executive secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, announced her resignation after a report from the agency described Israel as an "apartheid regime." Photo by Nabil Mounzer/EPA

March 17 (UPI) -- A United Nations official resigned after issuing a report that accused Israel of apartheid in its treatment of Palestinians.

Under Secretary General Rima Khalaf, a Jordanian, resigned Thursday after her agency, the Beirut-based Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, issued the report.

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The report concluded that "Israel has established an apartheid regime that systematically institutionalizes racial oppression and domination of the Palestinian people as a whole. Aware of the seriousness of this allegation, the authors of the report conclude that available evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in instruments of international law."

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres had asked her to remove the report from the ESCWA website. A spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said the report was released without consultation with the U.N. leader, who didn't agree with the views in the report.

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"The secretary general asked me yesterday morning to withdraw" the report, she said. "I asked him to rethink his decision, he insisted, so I submitted my resignation from the U.N."

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"We expected of course that Israel and its allies would put huge pressure on the secretary general of the U.N. so that he would disavow the report, and that they would ask him to withdraw it," Khalaf added.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Israel's Ambassador Danny Danon also comdemned the report.

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"The United States is outraged by the report," Haley said in a statement. "That such anti-Israel propaganda would come from a body whose membership nearly universally does not recognize Israel is unsurprising."

Danon said in a statement: "The attempt to smear and falsely label the only true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy is despicable and constitutes a blatant lie."

In 2014, then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that Israel could become "an apartheid state" if Israel doesn't agree on a two-state solution with the Palestinians. But he later said he regretted the word usage.

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The Palestinians have lived under Israeli occupation since 1967.

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