Hanan Ashrawi
Hanan AshrawiIssam Rimawi/Flash 90

Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi on Saturday blasted the UN for removing the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) report that accused Israel of imposing an apartheid regime on Palestinian Arabs.

"Instead of succumbing to political blackmail or allowing itself to be censured or intimidated by external parties, the UN should condemn the acts described in the report and hold Israel responsible,” she said, according to the Ma’an news agency.

She lauded the apartheid report as “a step in the right direction”, adding it “highlights the true reality on the ground which is one of apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and military occupation.”

Ashrawi called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who ordered the report removed from the agency’s website, “to do what is right, reinstate the ESCWA report and undertake serious and concrete measures to hold Israel accountable for its persistent violations of international law and human rights.”

Her comments come a day after Rima Khalaf, the Executive Secretary of ESCWA, resigned from her post amid pressure from Gutteres to remove the apartheid report.

Meanwhile, Riyad al-Maliki, the Palestinian Authority (PA) official in charge of foreign affairs, expressed “deep regret” over Khalaf’s resignation and expressed his “unequivocal objection” to the withdrawal of the report.

Al-Maliki described the ESCWA report as an “objective analysis of the facts on the ground, arriving at an accurate conclusion based on the legal definition of the crime of apartheid.”

He added that the report’s removal “sends a dangerous message to countries that commit crimes; that with enough pressure, their actions can be ignored and appeased and that even reporting in this regard will be censored, as opposed to triggering serious consideration of the situation and of potential remedies, including accountability as per international law.”

The ESCWA report concluded that “Israel has established an apartheid regime that systematically institutionalizes racial oppression and domination of the Palestinian people as a whole.”

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.