The former UN undersecretary general who was forced to resign for calling out Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as “Apartheid” has given her first interview and said she has “no regrets”.
Rima Khalaf told AP the international community had failed the Palestinian people and called for sanctions against Israel.
“We are not here for defamation,” Khalaf said.
“We are here for solving the problem.”
Khalaf, bureau chief for the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) in Beirut, famously described Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as an ‘Apartheid’ system in a UN document.
Apartheid is considered a “crime against humanity” under the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) law and the matter deserves “serious examination”, Khalaf said.
Israel disputed the apartheid charge at the time as a “big lie,” and described the report as anti-Semitic.
The ICC has not made a charge of Apartheid against Israel and evidence of dicrimination is not enough in order to bring a charge.
The broader question is whether taken as a whole the entire system constitutes apartheid,” said Sari Bashi, Israel/Palestine advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.
The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, originally wanted Khalaf’s report to be removed, and when she refused to comply, was forced to step down.
Days after she resigned in March, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas awarded her Palestine’s Medal of the Highest Honor.
Her report described a “regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole” and the system by which people were segmented and treated differently according to race.
Khalaf, who holds Kuwaiti nationality but is of Palestinian descent, said Israel “can be a Jewish state” as long as every citizen enjoys equal rights in the eyes of the law.
“If this is the case, then the label really doesn’t matter,” she said.
Khalaf is currently living in Jordan, where she once worked in Jordan.