Israel condemns UN report which labelled treatment of Palestinians ‘apartheid regime’

New paper officially using controversial term for first time sparks anger in Tel Aviv and Washington DC 

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Israel and its allies have reacted with anger to a new report from the United Nations which has found that “Israel is guilty of imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people”.

The analysis, commissioned and published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, which recognises a Palestinian state as a working member, found that Palestinians are subjected to a “strategic fragmentation” that allows Israel to impose “racial domination” with different sets of laws for different peoples.

Palestinians are “subjected to oppression on the basis of not being Jewish” in education, healthcare, employment and residency rights, wrote authors Virginia Tilley, professor of political science at Southern Illinois University, and Richard Falk, a former UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian Territories.

“Israel is guilty [beyond a reasonable doubt] of imposing an apartheid regime… which amounts to the commission of a crime against humanity,” they concluded, urging governments to support anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions efforts and calling for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on whether Israeli practices amount to apartheid. 

Israel’s envoy to the UN, Danny Danon, was quick to issue a statement after the report’s publication on Wednesday, which he called a “blatant lie”.

“The attempt to smear and falsely label the only true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy is despicable,” he said.

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A spokesperson for the United Nations has said “the report as it stands does not reflect the views of the secretary-general” and was written without consultation from the UN secretariat.

US envoy Nikki Haley welcomed the secretariat’s comments. “The United States is outraged by the report,” she said in a statement.

“The United Nations secretariat was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the report altogether.”

The backlash comes at an already strained time for UN-Israel relations; next week the security council will meet to to discuss the implementation of December’s symbolic vote condemning Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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