Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has announced that he will be granting the highest Palestinian honor to a Jordanian diplomat who stepped down on Friday as the head of a UN commission over pressure to withdraw a report accusing Israel of apartheid.
The announcement from the office of the Palestinian president said that he had spoken personally with Rima Khalaf and thanked her for her support for the Palestinian people.
“Khalaf stood by her principles and the principles of international law and refused to remain in [her] position without the freedom of action to disclose the facts and the humanitarian situation in which the Palestinian people are living in under Israeli occupation,” the statement said.
The report for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), which comprises 18 Arab states, concluded that "Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole."
The accusation – often directed against Israel by its critics – has never before been made by a United Nations body.
Khalaf resigned from her position as the executive-secretary of the Lebanon-based commission after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked that the controversial report be remove from the agency's website.
Khalaf stood by the report, calling it the "first of its kind" from a UN agency that sheds light on "the crimes that Israel continues to commit against the Palestinian people, which amount to war crimes against humanity."
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the report was published without prior consultation with the UN secretariat.
Israel's UN envoy Danny Danon thanked Guterres for demanding the report's withdrawal, saying that "the time has come to put an end to those using their status within the UN to promote anti-Israel activity.
"Khalaf has for years worked to harm Israel and to promote the BDS and she should have left her role a long time ago."
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