The Palestinian president has given his people’s highest honor to a former United Nations official who condemned Israel as being an “apartheid regime.”
President Mahmoud Abbas told Rima Khalaf by phone that she would receive the “Palestine Medal of the Highest Honor” in recognition of her “courage and support” of the Palestinian people, the Associated Press is reporting.
Khalaf was forced to resign Friday after refusing to withdraw her report that concludes: “Israel has established an apartheid regime that systematically institutionalizes racial oppression and domination of the Palestinian people as a whole.”
The report was quickly condemned by U.S. and Israeli officials and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ office said the report was published with his offices’ consultation and does not reflect his views.
Khalaf is a Jordanian who headed the UN Economic Social Commission for Western Asia. She said she wouldn’t accept being subjected to pressure to withdraw the report, but since her ouster, the report has been taken off 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.
Relations between Israel and Palestine have been at a stalemate for decades. Palestinians have remained under direct or indirect control of Israel since the 1967 Mideast war. Repeated attempts to negotiate a peace deal by the United States and other parties have failed.