On Friday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres ordered the removal from the UN website of a UN report that accused Israel of being an apartheid state from the UN website.
“This is not about content, this is about process,” Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General, told reporters in New York on Friday. “The secretary-general cannot accept that an under-secretary general or any other senior UN official that reports to him would authorize the publication under the UN name, under the UN logo, without consulting the competent departments and even himself.”
In response, Rima Khalaf, resigned as head of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the body responsible for the report, which is comprised of 18 Arab countries and based in Beirut. The report was compiled by Richard Falk, a Princeton professor emeritus who was formerly the UN’s Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Palestine, and by Virginia Tilley, an American political scientist who authored the book “The One-State Solution” in 2005. In his final report to the UN before leaving the position of Rapporteur, Falk accused Israel of ethnic cleansing.
It is likely pressure from the US led to the report being removed. On Wednesday, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement, “The United States is outraged by the report. The United Nations secretariat was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the report altogether. That such anti-Israel propaganda would come from a body whose membership nearly universally does not recognize Israel is unsurprising.”
Haley described Falk as “a man who has repeatedly made biased and deeply offensive comments about Israel and espoused ridiculous conspiracy theories”.