Head of UN West Asia commission resigns over report on 'apartheid' Israel

UN Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf speaks during a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon March 15, 2017. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Beirut, Beirut Governorate, Lebanon Mar 17, 2017, 04.55 PM (IST)

The head of the United Nation's West Asia commission, Rima Khalaf, resigned on Friday after what she described as pressure from the secretary general Antonio Guterres to withdraw a report accusing Israel of imposing an "apartheid regime" on Palestinians, Reuters reports.

The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), which comprises 18 Arab states, published the report on Wednesday and said it was the first time a UN body had clearly made the charge, Reuters reports.

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

The Israeli news site Ynet news reports that UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Wednesday that the report was published without consulting the UN secreteriat first.

They also report that Israel's foreign minister spokesman liekened the report to a Nazi propoganda publication, describing it as "despicable and a blatant lie", and adds that the US, a staunch Israeli ally, expressed outrage at the report.