The Jewish Labor Committee condemns the United Nations Economic Commission for Western Asia’s report that asserts that “Israel has established an apartheid regime.” It is not surprising that the Commission, comprised entirely of 18 Arab states, most of which do not recognize Israel, would issue a report that appears to be the first time that “apartheid” has been used in document with the United Nations stamp to criticize Israel. Moreover, the authors included a former U.N. investigator, Richard Falk, who has regularly criticized Israel, and has, among other things, cast doubt on the “official version” of the 9/11 attacks as the work of Islamic terrorists. And the report was issued without it being cleared by relevant departments or the U.N. secretary general.
The analogy of Israeli policies and those of the former South African apartheid rule is factually wrong. While the internal movement of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza is restricted by the Israeli government primarily for security reasons, the territories are governed by the leaders of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, respectively. Within the State of Israel, the laws are the same for Jewish and Arab citizens.
We are encouraged that U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said he had no advance knowledge of the report and that it did not reflect his views. He asked Rima Khalaf, a U.N. Undersecretary-General and the Commission’s Executive Secretary, to take the report down from the Commission’s website. She decided instead to resign from her position, which had been set to expire at the end of the month.
The U.N. spokesman made it clear that, “The Secretary-General cannot accept an undersecretary general or any other senior U.N. official that reports to him would authorize the publication, under the U.N. name, under the U.N. logo, without consulting the competent departments and even himself.”
We hope that this is an indication that there will be a more balanced and less discriminatory approach toward Israel at the United Nations going forward.
The Jewish Labor Committee, an independent secular nonprofit organization, enables the Jewish community and the trade union movement to work together on important issues of shared interest and concern, in pursuit of our shared commitment to economic and social justice.