United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attempted to refute Israel’s claims that he had justified or rationalized attacks carried out by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas on Israel.
In an address to the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday, the organization’s chief told the committee, “it is important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum,” and that the Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israel was partly a result of the residents of Gaza being “subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation.”
Following the comments, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, voiced strong objections to the statements, asserting that Guterres “who shows understanding for the campaign of mass murder of children, women, and the elderly, is not fit to lead the U.N.”
Israel’s foreign minister Eli Cohen, who was in New York at the time, abruptly cancelled a scheduled meeting with Guterres, saying “I will not meet with the U.N. Secretary-General. After the October 7th massacre, there is no place for a balanced approach.”
Telling reporters on Wednesday, “I am shocked by the misrepresentations by some of my statements yesterday in the Security Council as if I was justifying attacks of terror by Hamas,” the Portuguese diplomat attempted to distance himself from the controversy that his comments generated.
Also on Wednesday, Israel announced its decision to withhold visas from U.N. officials as a measure to convey its disapproval of what was said by the Secretary-General.