A senior UN official Rima Khalaf resigned on Friday after the UN withdrew a report that talked about Israel's 'apartheid regime' on Palestinians.
Khalaf announced her decision to leave the office at a news conference in Beirut after the UN pulled back the report it published on Israel invasion to Palestine, saying “powerful member states” put pressure over the world body and its chief with “vicious attacks and threats”.
She was serving as United Nations under-secretary general and executive secretary for the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).
The report which was published by ESCWA on 15 March was taken off as per the direction of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
ESCWA which is comprised of 18 Arab states, had said in its report that Israel “has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.”
The report had come under severe criticism of Israel and its ally United States.
While Israel termed it anti-semitic likening it to Der Sturmer – a Nazi propaganda publication, US had said it was outraged and demanded the report be withdrawn.
I do not find it surprising that such member states, who now have governments with little regard for international norms and values of human rights, will resort to intimidation when they find it hard to defend their unlawful policies and practicesRima Khalaf, senior UN official
Khalaf, in her resignation letter, also said that it is only normal for criminals to pressure and attack those who advocate the cause of their victims.
She also made it clear that she stands by the ESCWA report.
Khalaf's resignation was welcomed by US and Israel authorities.
US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said that her resignation was appropriate.
“UN agencies must do a better job of eliminating false and biased work, and I applaud the secretary-general’s decision to distance his good office from it,” Haley said in a statement.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, meanwhile, said that the report was published without consulting with the UN secretariat and the issue 'is not about content, but about process”.
The secretary-general cannot accept that an under-secretary general or any other senior UN official that reports to him would authorise the publication under the UN name, under the UN logo, without consulting the competent departments and even himselfStephane Dujarric, UN spokesman
The ESCWA report stated it was prepared on the “basis of scholarly inquiry and overwhelming evidence, that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid.”
Former UN human rights investigator for the Palestinian territories Richard Falk who co-authored the report had earlier been accused by US of being biased against Israel.