Trump pres­sure forced UN about-turn on Is­rael

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ANSHEL PFEFFER

THE QUICK ac­tion taken by United Na­tions Sec­re­tary Gen­eral An­tónio Guter­res to shelve a re­port by UN agency ac­cus­ing Is­rael of be­ing an apartheid state is a reflection of a shift in the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s at­ti­tude to­wards Is­rael in the Trump era.

Shortly af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion, there were re­ports on plans to is­sue ex­ec­u­tive or­ders dras­ti­cally cut­ting back Amer­ica’s fund­ing of the UN and its world­wide op­er­a­tions.

These or­ders are be­lieved to ex­ist in draft form and are be­ing re­viewed by the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

One se­nior Western diplo­mat with ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence at the UN head­quar­ters in New York said last week that the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s lead­er­ship was ex­tremely con­cerned about such a move, as it would force dra­matic cuts to the UN bud­get.

Mr Guter­res, a for­mer prime min­is­ter of Por­tu­gal who be­gan his term at the start of this year, was de­scribed by Is­raeli of­fi­cials who had worked with him in the past as “quite pro-Is­rael”. How­ever, his swift ac­tion against the re­port is­sued by the UN Eco­nomic and So­cial Com­mis­sion for Western Asia (ESCWA) sur­prised many vet­eran diplo­mats.

The Sec­re­tary Gen­eral’s de­ci­sion to with­draw the re­port led to the res­ig­na­tion of the ESCWA chair, Jor­da­nian diplo­mat Rima Kha­laf. The re­port was taken off the ESCWA web­site at Mr Guter­res’s in­sis­tence.

Is­rael’s am­bas­sador to the UN, Danny Danon, said the re­port was an “at­tempt to smear and falsely la­bel the only true democ­racy in the Mid­dle East by cre­at­ing a false anal­ogy”, adding it “con­sti­tutes a bla­tant lie”. The scan­dal over the ESCWA re­port deep­ened when the iden­tity of its au­thor, Richard Falk, be­came known. Mr Falk, a for­mer UN spe­cial rap­por­teur on hu­man rights, has been con­demned in the past by Western gov­ern­ments and even by his for­mer boss, the pre­vi­ous sec­re­tary gen­eral Ban Ki-moon, for en­dors­ing con­spir­acy the­o­ries and the work of a known an­ti­semite.

PHOTO: PA

Pulled re­port: Guter­res

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