UN arm draws criticism for saying Israel has established an 'apartheid regime'
Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 22, 2016. (Seth Wenig / AP)
Zeina Karam, The Associated Press
Published Wednesday, March 15, 2017 5:02PM EDT
BEIRUT -- A report published by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia that concludes that Israel has established an "apartheid regime" drew swift criticism from the U.N. and Israeli officials on Wednesday.
The report titled "Israeli Practices Toward the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid" was released by ESCWA at a news conference in Beirut.
Its authors conclude that "Israel has established an apartheid regime that systematically institutionalizes racial oppression and domination of the Palestinian people as a whole. "
Israel's U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon issued a statement condemning the report.
"The attempt to smear and falsely label the only true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy is despicable and constitutes a blatant lie," he said.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric, when asked about the report, said it was published without any prior consultations with the U.N. Secretariat and its views do not reflect those of the secretary-general.
When asked who commissioned the report and who reviewed it, he said: "That's a question to ask of ESCWA. It's a report commissioned by ESCWA, and I would refer your questions to ESCWA."
Rima Khalaf, a Jordanian who heads the Beirut-based agency, which promotes economic and social development in 17 Arab countries, has frequently been criticized by Israel in the past.
In 2015, Israel's ambassador urged the U.N.'s internal watchdog to investigate her, accusing her of "modern day anti-Semitism." The year before, he tried unsuccessfully to get then-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to suspend her.
Ambassador Nikki Haley, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said the U.S is outraged by the report and suggested be withdrawn.
Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon tweeted that the report should not be read "without anti nausea pills."
Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer contributed to this report from the United Nations.