The UN Secretary General António Guterres withdrew a report presenting detailed evidence that asserts Israel is committing the crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people although it was issued by one of the UN bodies and prepared by renowned international experts. This is considered as connivance and undermines the credibility of the universal human rights system, of which the UN Secretariat is a cornerstone. The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) emphasizes that the UN Secretary General’s decision to withdraw this report contributes to impunity of Israel from sanctions in relation to crimes against humanity, whose elements were revealed in the report, and makes the Secretary General a partner in the suffering of the Palestinian people under the Israeli apartheid regime.
The report was removed from the official website of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) on 17 March 2017 only after two days of its publication. This report reviews facts that have always been documented and published by international and Palestinian human rights organizations and that have been addressed in various research. PHROC stresses that the report should be commended in terms of its subject and accurate content. The Secretary General should have worked on guaranteeing application of the report’s recommendations instead of withdrawing it.
The report also revealed the reality of the Israeli apartheid policy against Palestinians that has started since its establishment in 1948. It addresses the ways in which this policy divided the Palestinian people into 4 parts and subjected each part to discriminatory laws which guarantee superiority of the Jewish race over the Palestinian one. The report also explains the Israeli measures during 50 years in the occupied territory since 1967 to ensure the separation of Palestinians from Israel and its persecution against them to ensure the demographic, social and economic superiority of the Jewish race.
The resignation of ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf in response to the withdrawal of the ESCWA report by the UN Secretary General is a monumental moment in the face of all pressures practiced by some international parties on the UN to maintain Israel as a state above the law and enjoying impunity. PHROC highly appreciates the efforts of those who prepared this report and are persons of position adhering to the human rights principles. This report was prepared by Professor Richard Falk, former UN Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, and Professor Virginia Tilley, Professor of Political Science at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in the USA. PHROC believes that this report founds new phase and approach of struggle to end the Israeli crimes of apartheid. PHROC also calls upon the international community, particularly the European Union (EU), UN and all relevant bodies, to apply the report’s recommendations.
It should be mentioned that the ESCWA is one of the five commissions formed by the UN to achieve economic and social goals identified by the UN Charter. It was established in 1973 upon the Economic and Social Council resolution 1818 (LV) in order to promote cooperation between the Member States and encourage sustainable development.
The following is PHROC’s position with regards to the report and its withdrawal it in four sections. The first section addresses the report’s importance while the second one highlights the serious implications of its withdrawal. The third part briefly reviews the report content while the final part presents recommendations to decision-makers.