In an unprecedented move, the UN's Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), released a report that accuses Israel of imposing an "apartheid regime" in Palestine.
The report titled "Israeli Practices Toward the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid" was released this week in a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon.
Speaking at the conference, Rima Khalaf, UN Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary, regarded the report a "first of its type," as it labels Israel "a racist state that has established an apartheid system that persecutes the Palestinian people."
However, according to the Independent, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York that the report was "published without any prior consultation with the UN secretariat.“
Mr. Dujarric stressed on the fact that the report only reflects the views of its authors and not "the views of the secretary-general (Antonio Guterres).”
A report based on "overwhelming evidence"
The report is authored by Mr. Richard Falkand and Ms. Virginia Tilley and according to its abstract, the conclusion reached by the authors is based on "overwhelming evidence, that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid" and urges "swift action to oppose and end it."
At the end of a six page executive summary of the report, its authors also state that the international community has a collective "legal obligation to act within the limits of their capabilities to prevent and punish instances of apartheid that are responsibly brought to their attention."
Israel reacts with outrage
Israel responded to the report with outrage, quickly condemning it.
In a statement issued late on Wednesday, Israel's UN envoy Danny Danon called the report a "blatant lie" saying that "the attempt to smear and falsely label the only true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy is despicable."
Nevertheless, Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement welcomed the report and was quoted as saying "this new UN report is a stark indicator that Israel’s apartheid is destined to end, as South Africa’s did."
On March 6, Israel, who claims to be the "only democracy" in the Middle East, approved a law effectively barring anyone found to be in support of the BDS movement from entering the country.
The law came into effect soon after and Hugh Lanning, chair of the British activist organization, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) is one of the people who were barred from entering Israel.
Human rights activists around the world have condemned the law.