By Kaamil Ahmed
Israel on Sunday decried a decision by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to honor a former UN chief responsible for a report that accused Israel of building an apartheid state.
Rima Khalaf resigned as head of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) on Friday after the UN Secretary-General asked her to block the report, which has since been removed.
On Saturday, Abbas said he would award the highest Palestinian medal to Khalaf for her courageous stand in support of the Palestinians.
Ofir Gendelman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman, said on Twitter Abbas was waging "a diplomatic war on Israel" by announcing the award, describing the report as "libelous and false".
The ESCWA report said Israel "established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole" and that there was "overwhelming evidence" Israel had committed the "crime of apartheid".
Hanan Ashrawi, an executive member of the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said the report was a "step in the right direction" and should be reinstated.
"Instead of succumbing to political blackmail or allowing itself to be censored or intimidated by external parties, the UN should condemn the acts described in the report and hold Israel responsible," Ashrawi said in a statement on Saturday.
Israel reacted angrily to the report, with foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon comparing it to Nazi-era propaganda. -