One of the authors of the report was Richard Falk, an American law professor and former United Nations human rights investigator whom critics regard as an anti-Israel extremist. He has been refused entry to Israel for what Israeli leaders have described as his hostile point of view.
The report comes amid a hardening polarization on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with vastly diminished hopes for a two-state solution, a pillar of diplomatic efforts for the past two decades.
Many Israelis have become emboldened, and Palestinians disheartened, over what to expect from the Trump administration, which has emphatically sided with Israel and raised doubts about whether a two-state solution should be pursued.
A special negotiator appointed by President Trump, Jason Greenblatt, visited Israeli and Palestinian leaders this week as part of an undertaking to maintain diplomatic evenhandedness.
Apartheid, the institutionalized oppression once practiced against the black majority in South Africa during white-minority rule, has been used increasingly by critics of the Israeli government to describe its policies toward the Palestinians in territories occupied or controlled by Israel.
Israelis, including many of those who disagree with those policies, find the term deeply offensive, describing it as a false and inflammatory analogy aimed at isolating and delegitimizing their country.
An executive summary of the report on the United Nations commission’s website called it a study to examine, “based on key instruments of international law, whether Israel has established an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.”
The report concluded that the answer was yes, based on what it called the fragmentation of the Palestinian population, Israeli restrictions on Palestinians’ movements and other limits imposed on Palestinians but not on Israelis.
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, complimented the report’s authors and suggested that the criticism of their conclusions had been misguided.
“Rather than attacking the report, it would be best to reflect on the realities that the report addresses and how they can be remedied,” he said in a statement.
It appeared to be the first time in a United Nations report that the term apartheid had been used as a central description of Israeli policies toward Palestinians. But other critics of Israel at the United Nations have used the term. In 2007, for example, John Dugard, a South African law professor who was a United Nations human rights investigator, said Israeli laws and practices in the occupied territories “certainly resemble aspects of apartheid.”
Saeb Erekat, a lead negotiator for the Palestinians in negotiations with Israel, has used the term apartheid in referring to the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. When Israel approved new funding for settlements in June, for example, Mr. Erekat said, “It is time for the international community to assume its responsibilities toward this extremist government that openly supports apartheid and stands against the two-state solution.”
The leadership of the United Nations, sensitive to accusations by Israel and the United States over what they have described as a deep anti-Israel bias, moved quickly to distance itself from the report and described it as a surprise.
“We just saw the report today,” Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for Secretary General António Guterres, said at a daily news briefing. “It was done without any prior consultation with the secretary general. The report as it stands does not reflect the stance of the secretary general.”
Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, said the report “is despicable and constitutes a blatant lie.” He also denounced Rima Khalaf, the Jordanian diplomat who is the executive secretary of the commission that published the report. Ms. Khalaf has been singled out by Israeli diplomats for what they call her extreme hostility toward Israel.
“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 20th century, would publish such a report,” Mr. Danon said.
Ambassador Nikki R. Haley of the United States, who has vowed to end what she has described as the anti-Israel tendencies of the United Nations that prevailed before Mr. Trump took office, also expressed her anger.
“That such anti-Israel propaganda would come from a body whose membership nearly universally does not recognize Israel is unsurprising,” Ms. Haley said in a statement.
She also said, “The United Nations Secretariat was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the report altogether.”