Country “reevaluating relations with UN and its officials”
Israel has called for the resignation of António Guterres following remarks in which he said the barbaric attacks of October 7 “did not happen in a vacuum”.
Mr Guterres, a former Socialist prime minister of Portugal, was speaking at a meeting of the UN Security Council in which he reiterated his call for a ‘humanitarian pause’ in hostilities to allow life-saving aid to the besieged people of Gaza.
It is a call that has already been backed by several EU countries, including Portugal.
Expressing his unequivocal condemnation of the “horrifying and unprecedented October 7 acts of terror by Hamas in Israel”, António Guterres added that “it is important to also recognise the attacks did not happen in a vacuum”.
He referred to “56 years of suffocating occupation” suffered by the Palestinian people.
“They have seen their land constantly devastated, their people displaced and their homes demolished (…) hope for a political solution to the situation has been fading (…) In an armed conflict, no side is above international humanitarian law,” he said, alluding to “clear violations of international law in Gaza.
“The grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas”, the UN boss went on, but neither can the attacks “justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people”.
As radio presenters around the world have agreed this morning, the timing of Mr Guterres’ remarks is the issue here. Certainly, they went down like a lead balloon in Israel.
The country’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdad accused the secretary-general of being “completely out of touch with reality” and of seeing “the massacre committed by the Nazi terrorists of Hamas in a distorted and immoral way”.
“The secretary-general of the United Nations, who shows understanding for the massacre of children, women and the elderly, is not fit to lead the UN. I urge him to resign immediately,” read a post published on social network X (formerly Twitter).
“There is no point in talking to someone who shows compassion for the most terrible atrocities committed against the citizens of Israel and the Jewish people”.
Eli Cohen, Israel’s foreign minister also criticised the speech, saying in one of his own a little later: “Mr Secretary-General, what kind of world do you live in?“.
According to Lusa, “the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations has said the Israeli government will now have to re-evaluate its relations with the United Nations.
“After what the leader of this organisation just said (…) supporting terrorism, there’s no other way to explain it. Obviously, our government will have to re-evaluate relations with the UN and its officials who are stationed in our region,” he told Portugal’s State news agency.
In Portugal, Israel’s ambassador Dor Shapira has also interpreted Mr Guterres’ comments as ‘the loss of credibility of the United Nations’: “Today, 78 years after (the creation of the UN), the secretary-general proved that this body has lost its credibility by betraying the free world,” he tweeted.
Says Público, even a collective of families of Israeli hostages held in Gaza by Hamas has reacted to what they called Guterres’ “scandalous” words, accusing the UN boss of “shamefully ignoring the fact that on October 7 genocide was perpetrated against the Jewish people”.
Against this tragic backdrop, Portugal’s secretary of State for foreign affairs and cooperation, Francisco André, has called for the resumption of political efforts in favour of a “two-State solution” (between Israel and the Palestinians) – appealing for the immediate release of hostages held by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.
Talks behind the scenes, trying to sketch out a path towards reopening negotiations for a two-State solution are ongoing, as are calls for a ‘humanitarian pause’.
Treading as carefully as he could, Francisco André stressed yesterday that “it must be demonstrated that the non-violent political path is the path worth following. We must return to the diplomatic route. It is the only way to break the cycle of violence and extremism”.
Says Lusa, André advocates a “clear and solid path to a Palestinian State that fulfills the two-State solution: this is the only path to lasting and sustainable peace”. ND