The MPPM notes with concern the role played by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, in the process leading to the resignation of Rima Khalaf from the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).
The succession of events deserves to be briefly mentioned. On Wednesday, 15 March, ESCWA published a landmark document accusing Israel of apartheid, in a report concluding that “Israel has established an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.”
The authors of the report – Virginia Tilley and Richard Falk, both experts in international law – “aware of the seriousness of this allegation, the authors of the report conclude that available evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in instruments of international law,”. The report “is based on the same body of international human rights law and principles that reject anti-Semitism and other racially discriminatory ideologies, including the United Nations Charter (1945), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and the International Convention On the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965) ‘and’ is based on its definition of apartheid, in particular Article II of the International Convention for the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1973) ‘. The authors of the report emphasize that ‘although the term’ apartheid ‘was originally associated with the specific case of South Africa, it now represents a kind of crime against humanity under customary international law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court’ Adding that ‘this report reflects the consensus of experts that the ban on apartheid is universally applicable and has not been made irrelevant by the collapse of apartheid in South Africa and South-West Africa (Namibia)’.
The report highlighted in particular Israel’s discriminatory land policies enshrined in the country’s Basic Law (the equivalent of the constitution). ESKWA also mentions some of the Israeli policies of “demographic engineering”: the granting to all Jews anywhere in the world of the right to obtain Israeli citizenship while preventing the entry of millions of Palestinians with documented ancestral ties to the land where the State of Israel was created in 1948; Preventing family reunification of Palestinian citizens of Israel married to Palestinians from the occupied territories; The maintenance of segregated communities within Israel, with an extremely uneven distribution of resources. The report also underlines the fundamental importance of the different Israeli legal codes that apply to Palestinians within Israel, Occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, surrounded as “the main method by which Israel imposes an apartheid regime”.
The publication of the report was immediately the subject of fierce criticism from Israel and the United States, which urged the Secretary-General, António Guterres, to formally depart from the content of the report and demand it to be removed from the official website of the United Nations United. On that same day, in a statement by the Secretary-General’s spokesman Stéphane Dujarric, António Guterres made public his distancing.
According to statements made by Rima Khalaf, António Guterres asked her on 16 March to withdraw the report and, despite his request to reconsider it, Guterres insisted that he resigned. And indeed, on 17 March, the report was no longer available on the ESCWA website. The Secretary-General’s decision was hailed by Israel’s ambassadors Danny Danon and the United States, Nikki Haley, as well as the Zionist lobbying organizations in the United States.
MPPM condemn action in this case by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, awarding the country that has violated UN resolutions, Israel, to the detriment of the martyred Palestinian people, for whom the UN has a heavy and irrevocable historical debt. We must not forget that seven decades ago the UN decided to share the historic territory of Palestine, promising the creation of two states. But while one of these states, Israel, has existed for 68 years, the Palestinian people continue to wait for the UN General Assembly’s promise to it and which has been successively renewed through numerous Security Council and General Assembly resolutions that Israel Challenges daily.
MPPM praises Rima Khalaf’s upright position and considers António Guterres’s decision yielding to pressure from Israel and the United States of America – at a time when the latter is discussing cuts to the financial contribution to the UN budget – As seriously detrimental to the prestige, independence and the very raison d’être of the United Nations. On this occasion, it is worth remembering that in October 2016, at the election of António Guterres, the Israeli ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon expressed his hope that with the new Secretary General, the UN would abandon its “obsession with Israel” . The position taken by António Guterres, confirming the fears aroused by that statement by the representative of Israel, sets a serious precedent that fears the worst about the future unfolding of his mandate.
MPPM reiterates on this occasion the votes it made in its letter to António Guterres on the occasion of the beginning of his term as Secretary-General of the United Nations: that this is the mandate in which the United Nations will pay off the historic debt they owe to the people Of Palestine. Only by reviewing the attitude he has taken and adopting a position in line with UN resolutions, António Guterres will defend the authority and prestige of the organization he runs, and may favour a fair solution to the cause of the Palestinian people. Only then can the UN contribute to peace throughout the Middle East and the world.
Lisbon, March 22, 2017
The MPPM National Board