Middle East crisis, after Guterres’ statements Israel denies visa to UN officials

Elizabeth Smith

The controversy sparked by Guterres’ statements at the UN on the Israel-Hamas conflict has not subsided. Israel’s ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdad is calling for the UN secretary-general’s immediate resignation and has announced that his country will deny visas to UN officials.

Guterres’ statements at the UN

The high tension between Israel and the U.N. secretary-general seems to be spreading throughout the UN. Indeed, Israel’s ambassador to the UN has just declared that his country will deny visas to UN officials after statements made by the UN leader.

During a passage in his speech delivered Tuesday, Oct. 24, at the opening of the Security Council’s special meeting devoted to the Middle East crisis, António Guterres provided a reading of Hamas‘ terrorist acts that was unacceptable to representatives of Israel – and others:

“It is important to recognize that Hamas attacks did not come out of nowhere. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation.”

This was the passage in his speech that aroused Israel’s indignation although the same secretary-general then remarked that “the Palestinians’ claims cannot justify Hamas’ appalling attacks”. And, at the same time, “these appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the people of the Gaza Strip.”

Guterres then called on the parties for “a humanitarian cease-fire,” pointing out that “no party to an armed conflict is above international law” with reference to the large number of civilian casualties caused by the air raids.

Israeli representatives’ reactions

To these words came an immediate reaction from Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdad, who called for his immediate resignation. “The secretary-general, who shows sympathy for the campaign of mass killings of children, women and the elderly is not fit to lead the UN.”

According to Erdad, the secretary views the massacre committed by Hamas terrorists “in a distorted and immoral way.” “It is really sad that the head of an organization that emerged after the Holocaust has such horrible views. A tragedy! There is no justification or sense in talking to those who show compassion for the most terrible atrocities committed against the citizens of Israel and Jews. There are simply no words,” he concludes on X (formerly Twitter).

“We will deny issuance of visas to UN representatives”

In the aftermath of Guterres’ words, Israel’s own ambassador to the UN announced that his country will deny entry visas to UN officials:

“In view of his words, we will deny the issuance of visas to UN representatives. After all, we have already refused visas to Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths. The time has come to teach them a lesson.”

Eli Cohen: “Hamas will come to Europe”

No less conciliatory was the reaction of Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, who canceled an already decided meeting with Guterres and who during the vitriolic meeting in the Glass Palace in New York had responded to his words with predictions of a worldwide escalation of the Middle East conflict:

Mr. Secretary-General, what world do you live in? Certainly not ours, the world we live in. After the October 7 massacre, there is no more room for a balanced approach. Hamas must be wiped off the face of the planet. Europe will be the next to be hit by Hamas, it will have terrorists at the door.”

Read also: Europe shuts down: 10 countries reintroduce border controls due to terrorism threat

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