State of Palestine Ministry of Foreign Affairs 17 March 2017 Press statement

State of Palestine
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
17 March 2017
Press statement
Minister Riad Malki expresses deep regret that the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Dr. Rima Khalaf, was compelled to resign in light of pressures to withdraw the recent ESCWA report examining the discriminatory policies and practices of Israel, the occupying Power, in Palestine. That report, prepared by international legal experts and renowned academics, Mr. Richard Falk and Ms. Virginia Tilley, presents objective analysis of the facts on the ground, arriving at an accurate conclusion based on the legal definition of the crime of apartheid.
Minister Malki expresses Palestine’s unequivocal objection to report’s withdrawal. We take note of the UN Secretary General’s views on this matter, as expressed by his spokesperson, who stated that disagreement over the report was about process rather than content. Despite the procedural differences and, as the content and veracity of the report’s conclusions are not being debated, Palestine considers the withdrawal to be counterproductive and ill-advised. It 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. This has far-reaching negative consequences for the international system as we know it.
Minister Malki expresses Palestine’s gratitude to Dr. Khalaf for her service and commitment to the principles and values enshrined in the UN Charter and international law. Dr. Khalaf is an outstanding international civil servant, whose expertise and integrity are beyond reproach and admired by all privileged to work with her, and her leadership and contribution to the advancement of societies across the West Asia region and beyond are fully recognised and commended.
Finally, Minister Malki reiterates that despite the unfortunate developments over the report, its conclusions stand and should be duly considered and addressed as we continue to collectively strive for peace and justice in Palestine.  What ought to be addressed is the reality on the ground that cannot be hidden by cynical attempts to prevent their proper characterization – in short, “Trying to scrap the report will not scrap the reality it describes”, Minister Malki declared.
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Dr. Ashrawi denounces the decision by the UN to remove the ESCWA report on Israeli apartheid
NEW YORK, NEW YORK (March 18, 2017) — In response to media inquiries, PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi said:
“We denounce the decision by the United Nations to remove the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) report from its website which concluded that “Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in instruments of international law.” 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.
Such a report constitutes a step in the right direction and highlights the true reality on the ground which is one of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and military occupation.  Therefore, we call on UN Secretary-General António Guterres 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.
We also extend our deep appreciation to Dr. Rima Khalaf whose resignation from her post as UN ESCWA Executive Secretary should have never been accepted by UN Secretary-General Guterres.  We will continue to remain grateful to Dr. Khalaf for assuming a principled and courageous stand on behalf of the people of Palestine.”