SearchSenior U.N. official quits after 'apartheid' Israel report pulled

Senior U.N. official quits after 'apartheid' Israel report pulled ...
reuters.com 18/03/2017 Politics

Keywords:Arab, Asia, Beirut, Ellen, Israel, Israeli, Jordan, Member States, Nations, Nazi, New York, Palestinian, Palestinian People, Palestinian territories, People, Reuters, Reuters.com, Rima Khalaf, Secretary General, Secretary-General, Semitic, Stephane Dujarric, U.N, United Nations, United States, Western

A senior U.N. official resigned on Friday over the withdrawal of a report accusing Israel of imposing an "apartheid regime" on Palestinians, saying "powerful member states" pressured the world body and its chief with "vicious attacks and threats."
United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary for the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Rima Khalaf, announced her resignation at a news conference in Beirut after U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked for the report to be taken off the ESCWA website.
ESCWA, which comprises 18 Arab states, published the report on Wednesday and said it was the first time a U.N. body had clearly charged that Israel "has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole."
Israel fiercely rejects the allegation and likened the report to Der Sturmer - a Nazi propaganda publication that was strongly anti-Semitic. The United States, an ally of Israel, had said it was outraged and demanded the report be withdrawn.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 practices," Khalaf, of Jordan, wrote to Guterres.
"It is only normal for criminals to pressure and attack those who advocate the cause of their victims," Khalaf wrote in the resignation letter, seen by Reuters, adding that she stands by the ESCWA report.
Israel and the United States did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Khalaf's letter.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said earlier on Friday that Khalaf's resignation was appropriate and Israel's U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon said it was "long overdue.
"Anti-Israel activists do not belong in the UN," Danon said in a statement."
"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," Haley said in a statement.
The report was published without consultation with the U.N. secretariat, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric had said.
"This is not about content, this is about process," Dujarric told reporters in New York on Friday.
"The secretary-general cannot accept that an under-secretary general 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," he said.
One of the authors of the report was Richard Falk, a former U.N. human rights investigator for the Palestinian territories, whom the United States has accused of being biased against Israel.
The ESCWA report said it had established on the "basis of scholarly inquiry and overwhelming evidence, that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid."
While the report was taken off the ECWAS website, Khalaf told reporters: "Let me be clear, the report was issued ... and has impacts. The member states received copies of this report. And it is available."
(Reporting by Ellen Francis in Beirut and Michelle Nichols in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr and Diane Craft)
http://reviews.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/26224/text-of-resignation-letter-by-escwa-executive-secr
Text of Resignation Letter by ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf
The following text is the resignation letter submitted by ESWA Executie Secretary Rima Khalaf in response to the formal request by UN Secretary General that ESCWA withdraw the publication of a report that asserts Israel is committing Apartheid. Click here to access the full ESCWA report, which has since been removed from the UN website.]
Dear Mr. Secretary-General,
I have carefully considered your message conveyed through the Chef de Cabinet and assure you that at no point have I questioned your right to order the withdrawal of the report from our website or the fact that all of us working in the Secretariat are subject to the authority of its Secretary-General. Nor do I have any doubts regarding your commitment to human rights in general, or your firm position regarding the rights of the Palestinian people. I also understand the concerns that you have, particularly in these difficult times that leave you little choice.
I am not oblivious to the vicious attacks and threats the UN and you personally were subjected to from powerful Member States as a result of the publication of the ESCWA report “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid”. 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. It is only normal for criminals to pressure and attack those who advocate the cause of their victims. I cannot submit to such pressure.
Not by virtue of my being an international official, but simply by virtue of being a decent human being, I believe, like you, in the universal values and principles that have always been the driving force for good in human history, and on which this organization of ours, the United Nations is founded. Like you, I believe that discrimination against anyone due to their religion, skin color, sex or ethnic origin is unacceptable, and that such discrimination cannot be rendered acceptable by the calculations of political expediency or power politics. I also believe people should not only have the freedom to speak truth to power, but they have the duty to do so.
In the space of two months you have instructed me to withdraw two reports produced by ESCWA, not due to any fault found in the reports and probably not because you disagreed with their content, but due to the political pressure by member states who gravely violate the rights of the people of the region.
You have seen first hand that the people of this region are going through a period of suffering unparalleled in their modern history; and that the overwhelming flood of catastrophes today is the result of a stream of injustices that were either ignored, plastered over, or openly endorsed by powerful governments inside and outside the region. Those same governments are the ones pressuring you to silence the voice of truth and the call for justice represented in these reports.
Given the above, I cannot but stand by the findings of ESCWA’s report that Israel has established an apartheid regime that seeks the domination of one racial group over another. The evidence provided by this report drafted by renowned experts is overwhelming. Suffice it to say that none of those who attacked the report had a word to say about its content. I feel it my duty to shed light on the legally inadmissible and morally indefensible fact that an apartheid regime still exists in the 21st century rather than suppressing the evidence. In saying this I claim no moral superiority nor ownership of a more prescient vision. My position might be informed by a lifetime of experiencing the dire consequences of blocking peaceful channels to addressing people’s grievances in our region.
After giving the matter due consideration, I realized that I too have little choice. I cannot withdraw yet another well-researched, well-documented UN work on grave violations of human rights, yet I know that clear instructions by the Secretary-General will have to be implemented promptly. A dilemma that can only be resolved by my stepping down to allow someone else to deliver what I am unable to deliver in good conscience. I know that I have only two more weeks to serve; my resignation is therefore not intended for political pressure. It is simply because I feel it my duty towards the people we serve, towards the UN and towards myself, not to withdraw an honest testimony about an ongoing crime that is at the root of so much human suffering. Therefore, I hereby submit to you my resignation from the United Nations.
Respectfully
Rima Khalaf
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