Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday awarded the PA’s highest honor to former UN official Rima Khalaf, who authored a UN report that accused Israel of establishing an "apartheid regime."
According to The Associated Press, Abbas informed Khalaf by phone that she would receive the PA “Medal of the Highest Honor” in recognition of what PA media described as her "courage and support" for the Palestinian people.
A statement said Abbas "stressed to Dr. Khalaf that our people appreciate her humanitarian and national position."
Khalaf, a UN undersecretary-general and the executive secretary of the agency’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), resigned on Friday amid pressure from UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres to remove the apartheid report.
The report was co-authored by former UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur, Richard Falk, who during his tenure repeatedly attacked Israel.
Falk in the past praised the Hamas terrorist organization and compared it to the French resistance during World War 2, and has also compared Israelis to Nazis.
The report concluded that "Israel has established an apartheid regime that systematically institutionalizes racial oppression and domination of the Palestinian people as a whole."
It was swiftly condemned by U.S. and Israeli officials, and Guterres said it had been published without any prior consultations and did not reflect his views.
While Israel’s UN Ambassador, Danny Danon, welcomed Khalaf’s resignation, PA officials blasted the UN for pressuring Khalaf to step down and for removing the “apartheid” report from the ESCWA website.
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi accused the UN of “succumbing to political blackmail” and said the global body “should condemn the acts described in the report and hold Israel responsible.”