Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas (AP/Andrew Medichini) (AP/Andrew Medichini)
Abbas Bestows Highest Palestinian Honor on UN Official who Accused Israel of Apartheid

The Palestinians view an anti-Israel activist, whose accusations against the Jewish state were even too much for the UN, as a national hero. 

Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas has awarded the Palestinians’ highest honor to a former UN official who resigned last week after authoring a report that accused Israel of establishing an “apartheid regime.”

The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported Sunday that Abbas had informed Rima Khalaf by phone that she would receive the Palestine Medal of the Highest Honor in recognition of her “courage and support” for the Palestinian people.

A statement said Abbas “stressed to Dr. Khalaf that our people appreciate her humanitarian and national position.”

Khalaf, a UN undersecretary-general, resigned Friday after refusing to withdraw her report for the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).

Its authors, Profs. Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley, alleged that “Israel has established an apartheid regime that systematically institutionalizes racial oppression and domination of the Palestinian people as a whole.”

The report was swiftly condemned by US and Israeli officials, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ office said it had been published without any prior consultations and did not reflect the UN’s views.

Khalaf, a Jordanian who headed the Beirut-based ESCWA, said she couldn’t accept being subjected to pressure from Guterres to withdraw the report.

The report has been removed from the commission’s website.

In Jordan, government spokesman Mohammed Momani described Khalaf as a patriot who has held senior positions in the kingdom.

“We in Jordan view international reports about what the Palestinian people are being subjected to, from daily restrictions to injustice, as something that is in their interest,” he said.

A ‘Modern-Day Anti-Semite’

However, former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor has accused Khalaf of “modern-day anti-Semitism.”

In the summer of 2015, Prosor met Carmen Lapointe, head of the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services, calling for a disciplinary hearing against Khalaf. Prosor told Lapointe that “Khalaf has abused her position in order to promote an anti-Israel agenda in a flagrant violation of UN obligations and principles.”

While the Arabs lauded her as a hero, US and Israeli officials welcomed her departure.

“When someone issues a false and defamatory report in the name of the UN, it is appropriate that the person resign. UN agencies must do a better job of eliminating false and biased work, and I applaud the secretary-general’s decision to distance his good office from it,” US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley stated after Khalaf stepped down.

“Over the years Khalaf has worked to harm Israel and advocate for the BDS movement,” Israel ambassador to the UN Danny Danon stated. “Her removal from the UN is long overdue.”

By: AP and United with Israel Staff