(CNN) Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced his resignation Tuesday, hours after new sexual abuse allegations surfaced against the embattled politician.
(CNN) Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced his resignation Tuesday, hours after new sexual abuse allegations surfaced against the embattled politician.
(JTA) — Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer submitted his resignation, citing “personal reasons,” leaving only three members on the seven-seat board of governors of the U.S. central banking system.
Fischer, 73, who has been a member of the Federal Reserve’s board of governors and its vice chairman for more than three years, said his resignation is effective in October. His term as vice chairman had been set to expire in October 2018, and his term on the board of governors in 2020.
The Federal Reserve sets money policy for the U.S. to maximize employment, stabilize prices and moderate long-term interest rates along with regulating banks.
“Stan’s keen insights, grounded in a lifetime of exemplary scholarship and public service, contributed invaluably to our monetary policy deliberations,” Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said in a statement announcing Fischer’s resignation. “He represented the Board internationally with distinction and led our efforts to foster financial stability. I’m personally grateful for his friendship and his service. We will miss his wise counsel, good humor, and dry wit.”
Fischer, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen, was governor of the Bank of Israel from 2005 to 2013. He previously held senior positions at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Prior to that he was a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Yellen’s four-year term ends in February, at which time President Donald Trump can either replace her or reappoint her for another term.
TAIPEI — Taiwan’s Premier Lin Chuan resigned on Monday in a move aimed at reviving dwindling public support for the government of President Tsai Ing-wen.
Tsai’s office announced in a statement that Lin tendered his resignation on Sunday, saying that he had “accomplished his periodic tasks,” and it was approved by the president.
Speculation was rife that Lin would be replaced. The government’s popularity has been hit by a series of controversial policies, ranging from holiday cuts to pension reforms, as well as by worsening relations with China.
Beijing has cut all official communication with Tsai’s government since she took office in May last year. Her Democratic Progressive Party, which traditionally leans towards declaring formal independence from China, has refused officially to accept that Taiwan is part of one China.
Tsai’s popularity has been dropping from a high of nearly 70 percent when she took power to below 30 percent in several recent polls, with some in the DPP blamed the unpopular premier for dragging down her support.
In a TVBS poll released last month, Lin’s support fell to a record low of 19 percent, while 44 percent said he should be replaced against 26 percent who said he should stay.
“I am happy that somebody will take over the heavy burden and I’m grateful that somebody is willing to do that… I’ll accept the criticisms that are reasonable,” Lin told reporters when asked about his low public support.
Lin, an economist and former finance minister, was rumored to become the next governor of Taiwan’s central bank. But he said Monday that he has no plans to take any government post in the future.
His replacement will be announced on Tuesday. There has been widespread speculation that the popular mayor of the southern city of Tainan, William Lai, will take over.
Sean Spicer has resigned his post as White House press secretary, reportedly disappointed with the appointment of New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director. According to some Jewish leaders, he should have quit three months ago.
Over six months as President Donald Trump’s mouthpiece, Spicer managed to get in two separate tiffs with Jewish leaders over the Holocaust, one which sparked calls for his job. For good measure, he also made controversial statements about Jerusalem and the rash of JCC bomb threats.
Here are four times Spicey mixed it up with the Jews, and a bonus from someone who played him on TV.
Spicer and the Holocaust, Episode I: Omission of the Jews
Spicer often had the unenviable task of doubling down on his boss’ more outlandish statements — for example, the visibly incorrect insistence that the inauguration crowd for Trump was larger than Barack Obama’s.
Days later, Spicer found himself on the defensive against nearly every major American Jewish group. On Jan. 27, Trump’s official statement marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day omitted any mention of Jews. Jewish groups — even those that supported Trump — slammed the statement. The Trump-friendly Zionist Organization of America expressed “chagrin and deep pain” at Trump “omitting any mention of anti-Semitism and the six million Jews.”
But the president’s deputies said the statement was “inclusive” of the Holocaust’s range of victims. Spicer in a media briefing called the critics “pathetic” and accused them of “nitpicking a statement.”
“To suggest that remembering the Holocaust and acknowledging all of the people — Jewish, gypsies, priests, disabled, gays and lesbians — I mean it is pathetic that people are picking on a statement,” he said. The January Holocaust controversy might have been bad. But the one to come would be much worse.
Spicer and the Holocaust, Episode II: “Hitler, who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons”
Shortly after Trump ordered an attack on Syria in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack by Bashar Assad, Spicer wanted to accentuate Assad’s evil. So he compared the Syrian dictator to Adolf Hitler — in a way that made Hitler look good.
“We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II,” he said. “We had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”
Hitler did, of course, use chemical weapons on civilians, gassing millions of Jews with Zyklon B in concentration camps.
But when a reporter asked Spicer to clarify his words, he angered some critics even more, claiming that Hitler “was not using the gas on his own people,” then saying Nazis killed Jews in “Holocaust centers.”
The Jewish organizational wrath came swiftly. A range of groups criticized the statement, and the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, a vocal Trump critic, called for Spicer to resign — as did House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz tweeted that Spicer must “apologize or resign.”
Later that day, Spicer apologized on CNN.
“Frankly, I mistakenly made an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust, for which frankly there is no comparison,” he told host Wolf Blitzer. “And for that I apologize. It was a mistake to do that.”
Spicer says Trump was right about the JCC bomb threats.
A couple of weeks before his second Holocaust gaffe, Spicer enjoyed a rare moment of validation. Following the arrest of an Israeli teen for the rash of bomb threats phoned into Jewish community centers this year, Spicer took an opportunity to note that his boss had been right all along.
Discussing the threats in February, according to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Trump told a meeting of states’ attorney generals that “sometimes it’s the reverse” and attacks are made “to make people – or to make others – look bad.”
The comments — if accurate — were a shock to Jews who had faulted Trump for hesitating to condemn the attacks. Two liberal Jewish groups blamed him for fostering a climate conducive to hate.
The Israeli teen’s arrest, Spicer said, proved Trump right. Spicer called on left-wing groups to be “held accountable.”
“We saw these threats coming into Jewish community centers, and there was an immediate jump to criticize folks on the right, and to denounce people on the right and ask them to condemn them, and it turns out that in fact it wasn’t someone on the right,” Spicer said at a media briefing. “The president from the get-go had said ‘I bet you it’s not someone [on the right]’ and he was right.”
Spicer definitely knows where the Western Wall is.
In May, Jewish groups criticized the Trump administration — this time from the right — for not affirming that the Western Wall is part of Israel. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster declined to say so, and a State Department staffer reportedly told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office that the site is “not your territory.” While Israel has annexed eastern Jerusalem, where the wall is located, the international community does not recognize Israel’s claims.
In what may have been an attempt at compromise, Spicer told reporters the site is “clearly in Jerusalem.” But no one was disputing that.
In the end, Spicer did not address the question of sovereignty, adding that the debate over Jerusalem has “had serious consideration” and “will be a topic that’s going to be discussed during the president’s trip between the parties that he meets with.”
The demurrals irked Jews who were hoping for a more hawkish Israel policy from the president, particularly in light of his repeated promises to move the US
Embassy to Jerusalem.
Live from New York, it’s Jewish Easter!
Spicer inspired one of the most talked-about comic creations of the early Trump era: Melissa McCarthy’s imitation of the press secretary on multiple episodes of “Saturday Night Live.” One of those skits may well enter the Jewish canon: Alluding to the mix-up over Hitler and the “Holocaust centers,” McCarthy’s version of Spicer, dressed as the Easter Bunny, uses toy vegetables to explain the story of Passover, or what he/she calls “Jewish Easter.”
The pharaoh is “a bad, bad hombre,” explains “Spicer,” using one of Trump’s catchphrases. “He’s doing some really bad stuff to the Jews. I mean, not even Hitler is –” (he catches himself, saying under his breath, “not going to go there again”). Then, manipulating the toys, he explains: “The Jews: These guys pass over, literally, these guys float above the pharaoh.”
As for “Holocaust centers,” the character makes one more effort to get it right: “I clearly meant to say ‘concentration clubs.’ Let it drop.”
WASHINGTON — Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, resigned on Friday morning, after denouncing chaos in the West Wing and telling President Trump he vehemently disagreed with the appointment of the New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director.
Mr. Trump offered Mr. Scaramucci the job at 10 a.m. The president requested that Mr. Spicer stay on, but Mr. Spicer told Mr. Trump that he believed the appointment was a major mistake, according to a person with direct knowledge of the exchange.
A spokeswoman for the president, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, was elevated to press secretary. She said Mr. Trump is grateful for Mr. Spicer’s service and that the president believes Mr. Spicer will succeed going forward.
“Just look at his great television ratings,” Mr. Trump said in a statement read by Ms. Sanders during a White House briefing on Friday.
Mr. Spicer’s turbulent tenure as the president’s top spokesman was marked by a combative style with the news media that spawned a caricature of him on “Saturday Night Live.”
He had hoped to last a year. He lasted six months and a day.
Mr. Scaramucci joined Ms. Sanders on the podium and said he had great respect for Mr. Spicer, adding, “I hope he goes on to make a tremendous amount of money.”
Mr. Scaramucci founded the global investment firm SkyBridge Capital and is a Fox News contributor. He is known for his spirited on-air defense of Mr. Trump, but he also enjoys good relationships with journalists from an array of outlets, including those the president has labeled “fake news.”
Mr. Scaramucci acknowledged the awkwardness of Mr. Spicer’s resignation.
“This is obviously a difficult situation to be in,” Mr. Scaramucci said.
Mr. Spicer’s rumored departure has been one of the longest-running internal sagas in an administration brimming with dissension and intrigue. A former Republican National Committee spokesman and strategist, Mr. Spicer was a frequent target of the president’s ire — and correctives — during the first few months of the administration.
The resignation is a serious blow to the embattled White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, the former Republican Party chairman who brought Mr. Spicer into the West Wing despite skepticism from Mr. Trump, who initially questioned his loyalty. Mr. Scaramucci described his relationship with Mr. Priebus as brotherly where they “rough each other up.” He called Mr. Priebus a “good friend.”
Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has grown critical of both Mr. Spicer and Mr. Priebus, whom he regards as party establishment figures who operate out of self-interest.
Mr. Kushner also supported Mr. Trump’s decision to supplant Marc Kasowitz as his lead attorney on matters pertaining to Russia, according to people familiar with the situation.
Mr. Scaramucci was to meet with Mr. Priebus on Friday, according to a West Wing official — and applause could be heard in the second-floor communications hallway when Mr. Scaramucci was introduced. Mr. Priebus denied that there is friction with Mr. Scaramucci.
For his part Mr. Spicer said it had been an “honor” and “privilege” to serve Mr. Trump.
Senior officials, including Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Mr. Spicer’s top deputy, were said to be stunned by the sudden shuffle.
Ms. Sanders often conducts daily briefings, but it was not clear whether she will take over Mr. Spicer’s duties. He has agreed to stay on for two weeks to a month, and Mr. Trump has told his advisers he is open to rotating new people into the slot, including one of the president’s personal favorites, Sebastian Gorka, a blustery foreign policy official who has been accused of having ties to far-right groups in Europe.
During the transition, Mr. Trump had planned to appoint Mr. Scaramucci, a 52-year-old Harvard Law graduate from Long Island, as director of his office of public liaison, but the offer was pulled at the request of Mr. Priebus over concerns about Mr. Scaramucci’s overseas investments.
His appointment Friday came two months after the previous communications director, Mike Dubke, stepped down. Mr. Trump was frustrated with Mr. Priebus over the slow pace of finding a replacement, according to a half-dozen people familiar with the situation.
Mr. Trump made the appointment over the objection of Mr. Priebus, who thought Mr. Scaramucci lacked the requisite organizational or political experience. But the president believed Mr. Scaramucci, a ferocious defender of Mr. Trump’s on cable television, was best equipped to play the same role in-house, and he offered him a role with far-reaching powers independent of Mr. Priebus’s.
Mr. Spicer flatly rejected the president’s offer of a position subordinate to Mr. Scaramucci, according to two administration officials familiar with the exchange.
The appointment of Mr. Scaramucci, a favorite of Mr. Trump’s earliest campaign supporters, was backed by the president’s daughter Ivanka, his son-in-law and adviser Mr. Kushner and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the officials said.
Whoever replaces Mr. Spicer will inherit one of the toughest public relations jobs in modern political history. The job of press secretary, once regarded as among the most coveted slots in Washington, a steppingstone to fame and a big post-government payday, has lost much of its allure under a president who tweets his opinions and considers himself to be his best spokesman.
Mr. Spicer, according to several people close to him, was tired of being blindsided by Mr. Trump, most recently this week when the president gave a lengthy interview to The New York Times in which he questioned his appointment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He was also weary of the daily dressings-down and instituted the highly contentious practice of holding off-air briefings, less so to snub reporters than to avoid Mr. Trump’s critiques of his performance, according to one of Mr. Spicer’s friends.
Shortly after Mr. Spicer’s resignation became public, the White House press office announced Ms. Sanders would hold the first on-air briefing since June 29.
PARIS (Reuters) – France’s head of the armed forces resigned on Wednesday after a heated dispute with Emmanuel Macron over defense budget cuts, bringing to a head an early test of the newly elected president’s mettle.
In a statement, 60 year-old Pierre de Villiers said he had tried to maintain a French defense force with the ability to do an increasingly difficult job within the financial constraints imposed on it, but was no longer able to sustain that.
“In the current circumstances I see myself as no longer able to guarantee the robust defense force I believe is necessary to guarantee the protection of France and the French people, today and tomorrow, and to sustain the aims of our country,” he said.
Macron had accepted his resignation, de Villiers added.
A fierce row broke out last week between the two men just two months after Macron was elected, and just as France prepared for the military pomp of a July 14 Bastille Day parade where Macron’s U.S. counterpart Donald Trump was the guest of honor.
De Villiers, appearing before a closed-door hearing of parliamentarians – had used strong language to protest at the 850 million euro ($979.46 million) defense budget cut Macron was making as part of his efforts to rein in state spending.
“I won’t let myself be fucked like that,” he said according to two parliamentary sources. “I may be stupid, but I know when I am being had.”
Macron had gone public with his rebuke. “I have made commitments, I am your boss,” he said in a speech to dozens of top army officers and their families.
Bishop Manfred Scheuer resigned on Monday as president of the Catholic peace organization Pax Christi in Austria because of outbreaks of antisemitism within the NGO and at a Pax Christi event with the Palestinian ambassador.
Scheuer, Bishop of Linz — Austria’s third largest city — said that the reason for his resignation is Pax Christi’s “criticism of Israel’s politics” and over the assessment of the “criticism as antisemitic,” wrote the Catholic wire agency Kathpress.
Scheuer said, “I am convinced that because of the Shoah in Germany and Austria a special responsibility and sensitivity is necessary toward the state of Israel.”
Pax Christi International supports the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign targeting the Jewish state.
In addition to anti-Israel antisemitism, Scheuer cited an additional reason for his break with Pax Christi: verbal attacks on members of the Jewish community in Linz during a late May lecture by Salah Abdel Shafi who serves as the Palestinian ambassador to Austria and the UN in Vienna.
According to Kathpress, during the joint Pax Christi event with Abdel Shafi, insults were leveled at a writer and Anna Mitgutch, a representative of the Jewish community in Linz, as well as two members of the community.
Mitgutch told the Linz Kirchenzeitung (Church Paper) that the language used was a “new flare up of antisemitism.”
It is unclear what the nature of the alleged antisemitism was at the Pax Christi event with Abdel Shafi, who is an economist and was born in Gaza City. A Post query to Abdel Shafi on Tuesday was not immediately returned.
Prof. Gerald Steinberg, the head of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, “This resignation therefore marks an important turning point — for the first time, a member of the Catholic hierarchy in Europe has openly criticized the organization for this activity. By highlighting the antisemitism, Bishop Scheuer’s resignation might also lead the Vatican to issue long overdue guidelines for Pax Christi and other Catholic NGOs such as Misoerer in Germany, that promote BDS. ”
The bishop said he shared the concerns of the Jewish community over growing antisemitism in Europe. “Every form of antisemitism is disgraceful and should be sharply criticized, ” said Scheuer.
He said antisemitism should have no place in Austria and elsewhere. Churches, society and politics must decisively fight antisemitism,added the bishop. Scheuer lamented that antisemitism shows that “people have forgotten history and are not aware of the entire catastrophe of the Shoah.”
The bishop cited Pope Francis’s statement: “It is impossible to be a Christian and at the same time an antisemite.”
Pax Christi has 30 branches and the Pax Christi Bank is listed as a bank to send funds that could be used for BDS.
Dr. Elvira U. Groezinger, the head of the German branch of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, told the Post: “It is high time for such a step like the one of the Bishop of Linz. Pax Christi is also one of the most notorious supporters of the BDS in Germany as well. Only recently for instance in the city of Essen they co-organized a BDS event with Jews as actors. There was no protest from the mayor there.”
She added, “Jena’s mayor has supported them in the past and was heavily criticized for that. All these local politicians but above all the heads of the Catholic Church should now follow the Linz Bishop’s example. He has put them to shame by showing what moral and ethic integrity are, missing totally in the Pax Christi circles.”
The Social Democratic Mayor Albrecht Schröter in the east German city of Jena joined the Pax Christ boycott of Israel in 2012 and has faced allegation of stoking hatred of Jews and Israel in Germany.
Steinberg said, “Pax Christi is heavily involved and partners with antisemitic groups and activities, including BDS and lobbying the EU to ‘suspend economic relations with Israel.’ They are also co-founders of EAPPI, whose activists accuse Israel of ‘apartheid,’and promote the Palestinian victimization narrative. Pax Christi repeats Palestinian accusations of ‘collective punishment’ and ‘unjustified and disproportionate use of force,’ erasing terror and contributing to demonization and antisemitism.”
Travis Kalanick stepped down Tuesday as chief executive of Uber, the ride-hailing service that he helped found in 2009 and that he built into a transportation colossus, after a shareholder revolt made it untenable for him to stay on at the company.
Mr. Kalanick’s exit came under pressure after hours of drama involving Uber’s investors, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, who asked to remain anonymous because the details are confidential.
Earlier on Tuesday, five of Uber’s major investors demanded that the chief executive resign immediately. The investors included one of Uber’s biggest shareholders, the venture capital firm Benchmark, which has one of its partners, Bill Gurley, on Uber’s board. The investors made their demand for Mr. Kalanick to step down in a letter delivered to the chief executive while he was in Chicago, said the people with knowledge of the situation.
In the letter, titled “Moving Uber Forward” and obtained by The New York Times, the investors wrote to Mr. Kalanick that he must immediately leave and that the company needed a change in leadership. Mr. Kalanick, 40, consulted with at least one Uber board member and after long discussions with some of the investors, he agreed to step down. He will remain on Uber’s board of directors.
“I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight,” Mr. Kalanick said in a statement.
Uber’s board said in a statement that Mr. Kalanick had “always put Uber first” and that his stepping down as chief executive would give the company “room to fully embrace this new chapter in Uber’s history.” An Uber spokesman declined to comment further.
The move caps months of questions over the leadership of Uber, which has become a prime example of Silicon Valley start-up culture gone awry. The company has been exposed this year as having a workplace culture that is rife with sexual harassment and discrimination, and has pushed the envelope in dealing with law enforcement and even partners. That tone was set by Mr. Kalanick, who has aggressively turned the company into the world’s dominant ride-hailing service and upended the transportation industry around the globe.
Mr. Kalanick’s troubles began earlier this year after a former Uber engineer detailed what she said was sexual harassment at the company, opening the floodgates for more complaints and spurring internal investigations. In addition, Uber has been dealing with an intellectual property lawsuit from Waymo, the self-driving car business that operates under Google’s parent company, and a federal inquiry into a software tool that Uber used to sidestep some law enforcement.
Uber has been trying to move past its difficult history, which has grown inextricably tied to Mr. Kalanick. In recent months, Uber has fired more than 20 employees after an investigation into the company’s culture, embarked on major changes to professionalize its workplace, and is searching for new executives including a chief operating officer.
Mr. Kalanick last week said he would take an indefinite leave of absencefrom Uber, partly to work on himself and to grieve for his mother, who died last month in a boating accident. He said Uber’s day-to-day management would fall to a committee of more than 10 executives.
But the shareholder letter indicated that his taking time off was not enough for some investors who have pumped millions of dollars into the ride-hailing company, which has seen its valuation swell to nearly $70 billion. For them, Mr. Kalanick had to go.
The five shareholders who demanded Mr. Kalanick’s resignation include some of the technology industry’s most prestigious venture capital firms, which invested in Uber at an early stage of the company’s life, as well as a mutual fundfirm. Apart from Benchmark, they are First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Menlo Ventures and Fidelity Investments, which together own more than a quarter of Uber’s stock. Because some of the investors hold a type of stock that endows them with an outsize number of votes, they have about 40 percent of Uber’s voting power.
Mr. Kalanick’s resignation opens questions of who may take over Uber, especially since the company has been so molded in his image. And Mr. Kalanick will probably remain a presence there since he still retains control of a majority of Uber’s voting shares.
Taking a start-up chief executive to task so publicly is relatively unusual in Silicon Valley, where investors often praise entrepreneurs and their aggressiveness, especially if their companies are growing fast. It is only when those start-ups are in a precarious position or are declining that shareholders move to protect their investment.
In the case of Uber — one of the most highly valued private companies in the world — investors could lose billions of dollars if the company were to be marked down in valuation.
Uber, which has raised more than $11 billion from investors since its founding in 2009, has a wide base of shareholders apart from the ones who signed the letter. Uber’s investors also include TPG Capital, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, mutual fund giants like BlackRock and wealthy clients of firms like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.
In the letter, in addition to Mr. Kalanick’s immediate resignation, the five shareholders asked for improved oversight of the company’s board by filling two of three empty board seats with “truly independent directors.” They also demanded that Mr. Kalanick support a board-led search committee for a new chief executive, and that Uber immediately hire an experienced chief financial officer.
In a dramatic response to a power-grab by Republicans in the North Carolina legislature, a Republican judge resigned today to circumvent efforts to strip power from the Democratic governor.
The Charlotte Observer reports that following today’s surprise resignation by Republican Judge J. Douglas McCullough, Democrat John Arrowood was sworn in. Judge McCullough worked as a staffer for Senator Harrison Schmitt (R-NM) before being appointed by President Ronald Reagan as United States Attorney in the eastern district of North Carolina.
Since Democrat Roy Cooper was elected Governor of North Carolina last fall, the Republican Legislature has gone to great lengths to strip his office of power. Yet with a three-sentence resignation letter this morning, Judge McCullough has proven that not all Republicans are willing to go along with shenanigans by legislative Republicans.
North Carolina has a mandatory retirement age for judges. To prevent the Democratic Party governor from appointing replacements for Court of Appeals judges nearing forced retirement, the Republican Legislature passed a bill to shrink the size of the court from 15 to 12 judges — thereby denying the Democrat of three scheduled appointments.
The legislation was vetoed on Friday, but a successful veto override was expected later tonight.
However, before the legislature could vote to override Governor Cooper’s veto of House Bill 239, Judge McCullough resigned 36 days prior to his forced retirement. This allowed the appointment of Judge Arrowood at 9:45 a.m. this morning.
“I did not want my legacy to be the elimination of a seat and the impairment of a court that I have served on,” Judge McCullough explained.
Newly sworn-in Judge John Arrowood is the first openly gay member of the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
The head of a Lebanon-based United Nations agency that promotes development in Arab countries resigned Friday, as the body she led removed a controversial report from its website that concluded Israel has established an “apartheid regime” guilty of “racial domination” over the Palestinians.
Rima Khalaf, a Jordanian who served as executive secretary of the Beirut-based Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), announced her resignation at a hastily arranged press conference in the Lebanese capital Friday.
She said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s insistence that the document be removed from the agency’s website led her to quit.
“Based on that, I submitted to him my resignation from the United Nations,” Khalaf said at news conference in Beirut Friday. “It was expected that Israel and its allies would put enormous pressure on the United Nations secretary-general to renounce the report.”
The report was no longer available on ESCWA’s website as of Friday.
The document, published earlier this week by ESCWA, drew swift and vociferous criticism from UN and Israeli officials. “The United States is outraged by the report,” US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said in a statement.
She went on to demand the report be withdrawn.
Its authors concluded that “Israel has established an apartheid regime that systematically institutionalizes racial oppression and domination of the Palestinian people as a whole.”
Khalaf has long been criticized by Israeli officials for her perceived anti-Israel positions.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had earlier requested the removal of the report from ESCWA’s website, according to a UN official who spoke to Reuters.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon welcomed the developments, saying Guterres’s move was “an important step in stopping discrimination against Israel.”
In a statement, he said the place of anti-Israel activists was “outside the UN” and added that Khalaf acted against Israel “for years” and “should have left her post a long time ago.”
Guterres had previously distanced himself from the report by ESCWA, which is comprised of 18 Arab countries.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric has said “the report as it stands does not reflect the views of the secretary-general” and was done without consultations with the UN secretariat.
Damon said earlier on Wednesday that the “attempt to smear and falsely label the only true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy is despicable and constitutes a blatant lie.”
“It comes as no surprise that an organization headed by an individual who has called for boycotts against Israel, and compared our democracy to the most terrible regimes of the twentieth century, would publish such a report,” he added in reference to Khalaf. “We call on the Secretary-General to disassociate the UN from this biased and deceitful report.”
The report, which was published Wednesday, was titled “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid,” says that “available evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in instruments of international law.”
The report further accuses Israel of “practices” that have fragmented Palestinians, arguing that it is the “principal method by which Israel imposes an apartheid regime.”
The report was compiled by Richard Falk, a Princeton professor emeritus with a long track record of vehemently anti-Israel rhetoric who previously was the UN’s Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Palestine, and by Virginia Tilley, an American political scientist who authored the book “The One-State Solution” in 2005.