A United Nations report co-authored by anti-Israel scholar Richard Falk on Wednesday accused the U.S. ally of being "guilty of the crime of apartheid" – triggering a furious response from the Trump administration, which demanded the U.N. "withdraw" the study.
America's U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley blasted the report as "anti-Israel propaganda" in a statement late Wednesday.
"The United States stands with our ally Israel and will continue to oppose biased and anti-Israel actions across the UN system and around the world," Haley said.
The report was commissioned by the U.N Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. While apartheid originally was associated with South Africa, the report said Israel's policies today meet the definition of “an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination” by one racial group over another.
“Aware of the seriousness of this allegation, the authors of the report conclude 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 said.
The commission's role is to promote economic development in the Arab region, but the U.N. employed a highly controversial figure to co-author the report. Sources told Fox News the report was launched with Falk speaking at a ceremony in Beirut on Wednesday.
Falk, a former U.N. special rapporteur to the Palestinian territories, is known for harsh and often outlandish criticisms of both America and Israel, particularly on matters of Islamist terrorism. After the 2013 Boston Bombings, Falk remarked: “The American global domination project is bound to generate all kinds of resistance in the post-colonial world.”
Falk repeatedly has questioned what he calls “the official version of 9/11.” In 2013, he told a radio show host about “gaps” in the standard 9/11 narrative.
“Questioning that deeply the official version of 9/11 does touch the third rail of American political sensitivities, and there is an attempt to discredit and destroy anyone that makes such a bold statement,” Falk continued.
The U.N.’s decision to get Falk, who lives in the U.S., to co-author the report could in itself be seen as a poke in the eye to the Trump administration. Not only has the Trump administration expressed concerns about anti-Israel bias in the U.N., but Falk himself has been an outspoken Trump critic. Earlier this year, Falk said Trump’s inauguration led him to “muse about what it might mean to live in a pre-fascist state.”
A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres distanced Guterres from the report Wednesday, telling Fox News that the report does not reflect his views.
“It was published by the Economic Commission for Western Asia, a regional U.N. economic commission, without prior consultation with U.N. headquarters,” the spokesman said.
The Israeli ambassador to the U.N. slammed the report's conclusion as "biased and deceitful."
"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," Ambassador Danny Danon said. "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."
Meanwhile, the report inflamed already-frayed tensions beteen the U.N. and the Trump administration. Haley blasted Falk while urging the secretary-general to go further.
"That it was drafted by Richard Falk, a man who has repeatedly made biased and deeply offensive comments about Israel and espoused ridiculous conspiracy theories, including about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is equally unsurprising," Haley said. "The United Nations Secretariat was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the report altogether."
The report pointed to what it claims is demographic engineering by policies seeking to maintain Israel as a Jewish state, and a “policy of domination” in “inferior services, restrictive zoning laws and limited budget allocations made to Palestinian communities … and in the mostly segregated landscape in which Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel live.”
It also referred to “the system of military law” imposed on Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as Palestianian “refugees and involuntary exiles” who live in neighboring countries.
The report called on member states to act against Israel.
“This report accordingly recommends that the international community act immediately, without waiting for a more formal pronouncement regarding the culpability of the State of Israel, its Government and its officials for the commission of the crime of apartheid,” it said.
Among the report’s recommendations was a call to “broaden support for boycott, divestment and sanctions initiatives among civil society actors.” It also called for the secretary-general to recommend to the General Assembly and Security Council that a “global conference” be convened to determine what action should be taken by the U.N.
The Trump administration already is considering pulling back support for and participation in various U.N. programs, in part due to its perceived anti-Israel stance.
Foreign Policy magazine reported Monday that the administration is eyeing 50 percent cuts in U.S. funding for U.N. programs.
The administration earlier confirmed it is reviewing U.S. membership on the Human Rights Council over concerns the body unfairly targets and focuses on Israel, while overlooking crimes by despots such as Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
In her confirmation hearing in January, Haley pointed specifically to the U.N.’s perceived anti-Israel bias as something the Trump administration would focus on.
"Nowhere has the U.N.’s failure been more consistent and more outrageous than in its bias against our close ally Israel," Haley told senators.