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MRN Press Statement on Resignation of UN’s ESCWA head Dr Rima Khalaf

The Media Review Network (MRN) applauds the decision by Dr Rima Khalaf to resign from her position as director of UN Economic and Social Commission West Asia (ESCWA), instead of succumbing to political pressure and blackmail.

Following a damning report and findings on Israel’s apartheid status by ESCWA, an organ of the UN, enormous pressure by the Trump and Netanyahu administrations has been applied to have it suppressed, withdrawn and expunged.

Instead of bowing to unprincipled demands, the position adopted by Dr Khalaf to resign is admirable and enjoys our full support at MRN. The explanation provided by her during a media conference to announce her courageous stance, will echo throughout the corridors of power, not only at the UN, but across the world:

“I resigned because it is my duty not to conceal a clear crime, and I stand by all the conclusions of the report.”

The report’s authors are two highly distinguished academics, Professor Richard Falk and Dr Virginia Tilley. Their study is based on empirical evidence and in addition to being comprehensively researched, is thorough and credible. It documents Israel’s apartheid policies towards the Palestinian people and encourages support for the grassroots boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights and freedom.

We at MRN fully agree with the response to Dr. Khalaf’s resignation by Mahmoud Nawajaa, the General Coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC):

“The fact that a UN Secretary General has bowed to threats and intimidation from the Trump administration to protect Israel from accountability, yet again, is hardly news. The real news is that this time round, Israel, with all its influence in Washington, cannot put the genie back into the bottle.

“ESCWA’s historic report has set two landmark precedents on Palestine. It is the first time any UN agency has established through a scrupulous and rigorous study that Israel has imposed an apartheid regime against the entire Palestinian people. Also, ESCWA’s advocacy of BDS as the most effective way to hold Israel accountable for its war crimes has set an important precedent in the US-dominated UN system.

“Palestinians are deeply grateful to ESCWA’s director, Dr. Rima Khalaf, who preferred to resign in dignity than to surrender her principles to US-Israeli bullying. At our darkest moment of Israel’s escalating repression, including of nonviolent human rights defenders, ongoing theft of Palestinian land, and worsening apartheid policies, Palestinians are hopeful that this groundbreaking report heralds the approaching dawn of a new era where Israel’s regime of injustice will be held accountable through sanctions and other measures, as was done against apartheid South Africa.”​

The Media Review Network believes that notwithstanding efforts to suppress the report and hostile attempts by Israel’s lobbyists to defame the authors, the message emanating from this exercise is clear: Israel is an apartheid regime!

Iqbal Jassat

Exec Member: Media Review Network



Iqbal Jassat