UN diplo­mat crit­i­cal of Is­rael re­moved

New Straits Times - - World -

NEW YORK: The top of­fi­cial of a United Na­tions com­mis­sion that pub­lished a re­port de­scrib­ing Is­rael’s treat­ment of Pales­tini­ans as apartheid quit on Fri­day, say­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s leader in­sisted that she with­draw it.

The re­port pro­voked out­rage from Is­rael and the United States.

The of­fi­cial, Rima Kha­laf, a Jor­da­nian diplo­mat who is ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary of the Eco­nomic and So­cial Com­mis­sion for West­ern Asia, de­fended the re­port.

Her res­ig­na­tion, barely two days af­ter publi­ca­tion, punc­tu­ated the po­larised pol­i­tics of the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian im­passe.

Rima’s res­ig­na­tion also re­flected pres­sure from the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion on her boss, Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­tónio Guter­res.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s am­bas­sador to the UN, Nikki R. Ha­ley, had as­sailed what she and Is­raeli of­fi­cials re­garded as a strong anti-Is­rael bias at the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“When some­one is­sues a false and defam­a­tory re­port in the name of the UN, it is ap­pro­pri­ate that the per­son re­sign,” Ha­ley said in re­sponse to Rima’s res­ig­na­tion. She praised Guter­res for his “de­ci­sion to dis­tance his good of­fice from it”.

The re­port ap­peared to rep­re­sent the first time that apartheid had been used in a doc­u­ment with the UN stamp to de­scribe Is­raeli poli­cies to­wards Pales­tini­ans in lands oc­cu­pied or con­trolled by Is­rael.

The au­thors in­cluded a former UN hu­man rights in­ves­ti­ga­tor, Richard Falk, who said Rima had been made a scape­goat.

“It is an aca­demic study that tries its best to look at the ev­i­dence and an­a­lyse the ap­pli­ca­ble law in a pro­fes­sional man­ner,” he added. NYT

REUTERS PIC

Pales­tinian am­bas­sador to Le­banon Ashraf Dab­bour help­ing Rima Kha­laf put on a Pales­tinian scarf af­ter she re­signed from the United Na­tions, in Beirut on Fri­day.

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