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Senior UN official quits after 'apartheid' Israel report pulled

photo by AP photo

U.N. Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf speaks during a news conference announcing her resignation from the United Nations in Beirut, Lebanon on Friday.

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Reuters, Beirut :
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 The United States, an ally of Israel, had said it was outraged and demanded the report be withdrawn.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.

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