UN chief wants report on ‘apartheid’ Israel taken off web

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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has asked the UN regional commission that represents most Arab countries to remove from its website a report accusing Israel of practicing an “apartheid regime” against Palestinians, a UN official said on Friday.

The report for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, which comprises 18 Arab states, concluded, “Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.”

The accusation - often directed against Israel by its critics - has never before been made by a United Nations body. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Wednesday the report was published without prior consultation with the UN secretariat.

Israel’s foreign ministry spokesman likened the report to a Nazi propaganda publication that was strongly anti-Semitic and described it as “despicable and a blatant lie.”

The report was still visible on ESCWA’s website on Friday.

The head of the United Nation’s West Asia commission resigned after what she described as pressure from the secretary general to withdraw the report.

UN Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf announced her resignation at a news conference in Beirut.

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