A new UN report says Israel has been imposing an "apartheid regime" of racial discrimination against the Palestinian people.
The report, commissioned by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), said on Wednesday that "Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole."
The study, which has been authored by Richard Falk, a former UN human rights investigator for the Palestinian territories, and Virginia Tilley, a professor of political science at Southern Illinois University, said the "strategic fragmentation of the Palestinian people" was the main method through which Israel imposes apartheid.
Falk, who has served as the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, had said Israeli policies had unacceptable characteristics of colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.
On the "basis of scholarly inquiry and overwhelming evidence," the report said, "Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid."
"However, only a ruling by an international tribunal in that sense would make such an assessment truly authoritative," it said.
The new finding divides Palestinians into four groups oppressed through "distinct laws, policies and practices."
The report also identifies the four sets of Palestinians as Palestinian citizens of Israel, Palestinians in occupied al-Quds ('Jerusalem'), Palestinians in the West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip, and Palestinians living as refugees or in exile.
The ESCWA, which comprises 18 Arab countries in West Asia, hoped the report prompt action by the UN.
Speaking at an event to launch the report at the ESCWA's Beirut headquarters, UN Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf emphasized that the report was the "first of its type" from a UN body that "clearly and frankly concludes" that "racist" Israel "has established an apartheid system that persecutes the Palestinian people."
UN report 'outrages' US
Meanwhile, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley called for the withdrawal of the UN report.
"The United States is outraged by the report," said Haley in a statement, adding, "The United Nations... must go further and withdraw the report altogether."
In December last year, the UN Security Council passed a resolution censuring Israel for its settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories after the US refused to veto it, reversing its longstanding policy of shielding the Israeli regime from condemnatory resolutions at the world body.
It also said the construction of Israeli settlements has "no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law."