Rabat – UN Under- Secretary General Rima Khalaf resigned her position Friday in response to the furor caused by the publication of a report that accused Israel of imposing an “apartheid regime” on Palestinians.
The report was published on the United Nations (UN) website on Wednesday and immediately caused a diplomatic commotion. The report charged that Israel “has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.”
It was published on behalf of the Economic and Social Commission for West Africa (ESCWA), of which Khalaf is also Executive Secretary.
Israel and its staunch ally, the United States, immediately called for its removal. UN Spokesman, Stephane Dujarric stressed to the media that the issue was not the content of the report, but rather the process used in publicizing it.
“The Secretary-General cannot accept that an under-secretary or any other senior U.N. official that reports to him would authorize the publication under the U.N. name, under the U.N. logo, without consulting the competent departments and even himself.”
The report was removed and Khalaf announced her resignation during a press conference in Beirut. In her announcement, Khalaf accused what she called “powerful member states” of using intimidation tactics to force the removal of the report.
In a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Khalaf said, “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 practices.”
She added, “It is normal for criminals to pressure and attack those who advocate the cause of their victims.”
Both Israel and the US welcomed Kahlaf’s resignation. Israel’s UN ambassador called it “long overdue” and asserted that “Anti-Israel activists do not belong in the UN.”
US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley also praised the resignation and condemned the report. “U.N. 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.”
For her part, Khalaf remains unrepentant, acknowledging that the report had still been seen and circulated. “Let me be clear, the report was issued… and has impacts. The member states received copies of this report. And it is available.”