Israel Calls for UN Secretary-General To Resign After He Seeks To Justify Hamas’s Slaughter of Israelis on October 7

Comments infuriate the Jewish community and the Jewish state, even as Secretary Blinken praises the UN boss.

AP/Seth Wenig
The United Nations secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, October 24, 2023. AP/Seth Wenig

Following a stinging speech by the United Nations secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, Israelis are wondering why their country should remain a member of the world institution, as their UN ambassador, Gilad Erdan, is calling on Mr. Guterres to resign. 

Mr. Guterres, “who shows understanding for the campaign of mass murder of children, women, and the elderly, is not fit to lead the UN,” Mr. Erdan wrote on X. “I call on him to resign immediately.”

The drama erupted today at the UN Security Council, where Mr. Guterres asserted that the Hamas attack “did not happen in a vacuum,” after which he went on to enumerate Palestinian hardships, claiming that they were what led to the horrors of October 7.

Mr. Guterres’s speech infuriated Israelis and leaders of the Jewish community. As long as Mr. Guterres remains in power, Mr. Erdan told reporters, “there is no justification for this building,” adding that Israel will have to reassess its relations with the UN.

Israel’s foreign minister, Eli Cohen, canceled a planned meeting with Mr. Guterres. “Hamas is the Nazis,” he said while visiting an institution that was founded in the aftermath of the Holocaust. He addressed UN reporters alongside several family members of Israelis held in Gaza. 

Mr. Guterres invited foreign ministers of member states for the Tuesday session on the war. In contrast to the Israeli diplomats, Secretary Blinken praised Mr. Guterres. “Mr. Secretary-General, we’re grateful for your leadership at this incredibly challenging time,” he said. 

“I’m here today because the United States believes that the United Nations, and this council in particular, has a crucial role to play in addressing the crisis,” Mr. Blinken said. “Indeed, we put forward a resolution that sets out practical steps that we can take together toward that end.” 

The proposed American text follows earlier, failed attempts by Russia and Brazil to prompt a council resolution on the war. The Russian UN ambassador, Vasili Nebenzya, who followed Mr. Blinken in speaking, indicated he would veto the American text. Instead, he said, Moscow would propose a revised resolution proposal of its own.

The UN chief seemed unfazed by the institution’s paralysis. “Nothing can justify the deliberate killing, injuring, and kidnapping of civilians, or the launching of rockets against civilian targets,” Mr. Guterres said at the start of the council’s debate. He then, nevertheless, launched a justification. “It is important to also recognize the Hamas attack did not happen in a vacuum,” he said. 

“The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation,” Mr. Guterres said. “They have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence, their economy stifled, their people displaced, and their homes demolished. Their hopes for a political solution to their plight have been vanishing.”

As he spoke, the largest rocket salvo since the start of the war was launched at the center of Israel, including Tel Aviv. Mr. Guterres, though, dedicated the bulk of his speech to Gaza, from where the rockets were fired. “The relentless bombardment of Gaza by Israeli forces, the level of civilian casualties, and the wholesale destruction of neighborhoods continue to mount and are deeply alarming,” he said. 

At the risk of alerting Hamas to its war strategy, Israel had warned Gaza civilians to leave the northern part of the strip. Yet, Mr. Guterres saw that as a violation of “international humanitarian law,” insisting that “protecting civilians does not mean ordering more than one million people to evacuate to the south” of Gaza. 

Mr. Cohen started his council speech by displaying photos of minors, including a nine-month-old baby, who are being held hostage by Hamas. “Mr. Secretary-General, in what world do you live?” he said. “That’s not the world we live in.” Referring to the Hamas charter, which calls for the elimination of the Jewish state, he said, “Mr. Secretary-General, you can read it.”

After initially opposing any traffic into Gaza, Israel allowed several truck convoys carrying water, medicine, and food to enter the strip through the Rafah crossing at its southern border with Egypt. The Israeli military says it has conducted inspections to assure that none of the aid ends up assisting Hamas.

Yet, as Israel opposes delivering fuel into Gaza, Mr. Guterres said, “our UN fuel supplies in Gaza will run out in a matter of days. That would be another disaster. Without fuel, aid cannot be delivered, hospitals will not have power, and drinking water cannot be purified or even pumped.”

The Israel Defense Force released on Tuesday aerial photographs of 12 gas tanks in southern Gaza that remain intact near the Rafah crossing. In them, Hamas has hoarded fuel for its war purposes, while civilians are denied access.

“Hamas has stockpiled more than 1 million liters of fuel in Gaza, but is not providing it to hospitals in need,” an IDF spokesman, Jonathan Cornicus, tweeted. “Hamas is accountable for the suffering in Gaza, not Israel.” 


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