UN group takes down report accusing Israel of apartheid

Josefin Dolsten

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaking to reporters at the U.N. headquarters in New York, Dec. 12, 2016. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

(JTA) — A United Nations affiliate removed a report accusing Israel of apartheid from the internet after the secretary-general of the international body asked it to do so.

Antonio Guterres asked the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia to remove the report, which was published Wednesday and says it “establishes, on the basis of scholarly inquiry and overwhelming evidence, that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid,” Reuters reported on Friday.

The report also said Rima Khalaf, the ESCWA chief, resigned because of Gutteres’ pressure to remove the report.

As of shortly after noon on Friday, a previous link to the report yielded an error message and the report was not listed among the publications on the website for the ESCWA, an agency based in Beirut, Lebanon that is comprised of 18 Arab member states, including what is identified as the State of Palestine.

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A U.N. spokesman had said earlier that the report was published without consulting the international body’s Secretariat and “does not reflect the views of the secretary-general.”

The United States and Israel sharply criticized the report following its publication.

“The United States is outraged by the report,” said Nikki Haley, the U.S. envoy to the U.N., in a Wednesday statement. “The United Nations Secretariat was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the report altogether.”

Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Danny Danon, also criticized the report.

“The attempt to smear and falsely label the only true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy is despicable and constitutes a blatant lie,” Danon said in a statement.

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