March 20, 2017
Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) commends Rima Khalaf, former director of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), for her courageous and principled stand of resigning rather than agreeing to remove a ground-breaking report from the UN website. IJV also condemns UN Secretary General António Guterres for caving in to pressure from Israel and the United States and removing the report.
On Wednesday, March 15, ESCWA released a carefully documented report which demonstrates that “Israel has established an apartheid regime that systematically institutionalizes racial oppression and domination of the Palestinian people as a whole.”
This was the first time any UN report used the term “apartheid” to refer to Israeli policies toward Palestinians. Unlike any earlier report, this study includes all four domains of Israeli laws toward Palestinians as one overarching system of oppression: (1) unequal civil law toward Palestinian citizens of Israel; (2) permanent residency law governing Palestinians who live in Jerusalem (3) military law governing Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza; and (4) policies which bar Palestinian refugees and exiles from returning.
It reminds the UN and its member states “of their legal duty under international law to take appropriate action to prevent the crime of apartheid and punish its perpetrators.” And it calls for efforts to “broaden support for boycott, divestment and sanctions initiatives among civil society actors.”
Immediately after the report was released, predictably, Israel and the United States attacked it. A spokesperson for Israel’s Foreign Ministry likened it to Nazi propaganda, and US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, dismissed it as “false and defamatory” and as “anti-Israel propaganda.”
Diana Ralph, an IJV spokesperson, commented: “Independent Jewish Voices Canada salutes Ms. Khalaf’s courageous and principled stand. We urge everyone to read this important, well-researched, and powerful document, and to take action to end Israel’s apartheid regime.”