UN diplomat critical of Israel removed
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
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.