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UN official says quitting over 'Israel apartheid' report

AFP  |  Beirut 

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

Khalaf, under-secretary general and executive secretary at the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western (ESCWA), told a conference: "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."

"We expected of course that 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.

On Wednesday, the United States demanded that Secretary General Antonio Guterres withdraw an ESCWA report accusing of imposing apartheid on the Palestinians.

Guterres had distanced himself from the report entitled "Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid".

The report concluded that "available evidence established beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid".

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 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 recognise Israel is unsurprising," she said.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Wednesday "the report as it stands does not reflect the views of the secretary general" and was done without consultations with the UN secretariat.

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".

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, March 17 2017. 23:28 IST