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Israel Demands UN Chief Resign as Tensions Flare Over Mideast

Israel Demands UN Chief Resign as Tensions Flare Over Mideast
NORTH SINAI, EGYPT - OCTOBER 20: Antonio Guterres Secretary-General of the United Nations speaks during a press conference in front of the Rafah border crossing on October 20, 2023 in North Sinai, Egypt. The aid convoy, organized by a group of Egyptian NGOs, set off Saturday 14th October from Cairo for the Gaza-Egypt border crossing at Rafah. On October 7th, the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise attack on border communities in southern Israel, spurring the most violent flare-up of the Israel-Palestine conflict in decades. Israel launched a vast bombing campaign in retaliation and has warned of an imminent ground invasion. (Photo by Mahmoud Khaled/Getty Images)

(Bloomberg) -- The Israeli ambassador to the United Nations demanded that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres resign for saying Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel didn’t happen in a vacuum, capping a day of heated exchanges at the Security Council over violence that threatens to spark a regional war.

Ambassador Gilad Erdan was responding to Guterres’s speech at the the opening of a Security Council meeting to discuss the Israel-Hamas war in which the world body’s leader said no Palestinian grievances can justify the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7, which killed about 1,400 people.

But “those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people,” Guterres also told the Security Council. “It is important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum,” he said, adding that Palestinians “have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation.”

Guterres’s remarks provoked Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen to cancel a meeting with him. Cohen gave a speech before the council in which he held up photographs of Israeli children held hostage, who he called innocent “victims of evil.” He also played an audio recording he said was a Hamas terrorist boasting of killing Israelis, and identified people who were guests in the council chamber as relatives of Israelis killed or taken hostage by Hamas.

Erdan later took to social media to demand Guterres step down for what he called a shocking speech that “proved conclusively, beyond any doubt, that the Secretary-General is completely disconnected from the reality in our region.”

The exchange highlighted the tensions that have followed in the wake of the Hamas attacks and Israel’s airstrikes in response, which Palestinian authorities say have killed more than 5,000 people. It also reflected the challenge for Guterres, who as head of the 193-member United Nations must represent both Israel and its allies, as well as adversaries such as Iran — not to mention countries such as Egypt and Jordan that recognize Israel but have criticized its policies.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to the UN for the debate and sought to shame those countries that have condemned Israel for its attacks on Gaza but refuse to speak out against the massacre against civilians by Hamas. He called for “humanitarian pauses” for aid to flow into Gaza.

“Where’s the outrage? Where’s the revulsion? Where’s the rejection? Where’s the explicit condemnation of these horrors?” he asked. But he also called for restraint. He said Israel has the right to defend itself, but “the way it does so matters.” And he said to other forces in the region that may consider widening the war: “Don’t throw fuel on the fire.”

Delivering a warning to Iran, Blinken said, “The United States does not seek conflict with Iran. We do not want this war to widen. But, if Iran or its proxies attack US personnel anywhere, make no mistake: We will defend our people, we will defend our security, swiftly and decisively.”

Later in the afternoon, Cohen, the Israeli foreign minister, was yelled at when speaking at a demonstration in support of the hostages held by Hamas in front of the UN headquarters in New York City. Protesters interrupted him several times with chants of “bring them home” and “bushah,” or “shame” in Hebrew. The families of many victims were in attendance.

During the UN session, Riyad al-Maliki, foreign minister of the Palestinian Authority, denounced what he called the hypocrisy of governments that tout human rights but allow dehumanization and abuse of the Palestinian people.

“Israel is avenging against Palestinian women and children and the entire Palestinian people,” rather than targeting the perpetrators of the Oct. 7 attacks, he said.

Understanding the Roots of the Israel-Hamas War: QuickTake

During Tuesday’s session, UN officials described a dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, and repeated calls for an immediate cease-fire. They condemned the Hamas attacks but expressed alarm over the scale of the Israeli response and resulting civilian casualties.

UN officials urged Israel to restore water and electricity to Gaza that has been cut off and to allow the free flow of humanitarian goods. They warned against escalation or widening of the conflict.

“Any miscalculation could have immeasurable consequences,” said Tor Wennesland, the special coordinator for the Middle East peace process.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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  • Cornay Bester says:

    Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.
    The world should speak directly to the Israeli on the street. Not to the Israeli leadership who caused this mess.

  • Enver Klein says:

    Antonio Guterres must resign because he didn’t stick to the narrative 🤦🏽, the narrative dictated by “those” who control the media and don’t want the truth to be known.

    • George 007 says:

      Exactly. The man on the street pretty much worldwide sees what’s going on despite the rhetoric from the ruling classes. I am an American and trust me when I tell you, the average American is horrified at what Israel is about to do.

    • Steve Davidson says:

      Jeez (whoops!) Enver I read your great comment literally and thought you were saying he should resign! Without being too pedantic, maybe next time a question mark might help dullards like me to understand you were being ironic.

      Yup, and worse, a Jewish oke, Blinken has the cheek to come to the UN and spout a load of rubbish. And unfortunately, although he’s not mentioned here, the hopeful eventual new English PM, Starmer’s wife is Jewish and has her family in Israel, so he’s suspect IMHO.

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    The American and Israel strategy of Apartheid has failed dismally in the Middle East and Blinken thinks that we are donkeys. The strategy of the Americans and Israel is similar to that of Botha of building relations with South African neighbours in what PW Botha referred as the Constellation of States. Israel and America starting with Trump believed that by creating relations with the Arab neighbours they could ignore the 56 years of suffocating occupation of Palestine and the 15 years of the Gaza blockade by Israel. Blinken thinks that by giving aid it would exculpate the American to their complicity in the violation of the human right of the Palestinians and that the fundamental causes would be overlooked and the UN Secretary General hit the nail on the head. The shameful Americans were stunned and the thug from Israel is inviting calls for expulsion of Israel from the UN. Guterres was not elected by the US and Israel unfortunately and he is not going anywhere. The days of the UN as an extension of US foreign policy are over as Nixon was saying in his last book, Beyond Peace. We applaud the position of the UN Secretary General as representative of the organisation he leads. The Americans by aligning with the criminal and dangerous Bibi Netanyahu have lost their moral authority on the world stage and have reinforced Russian criminality in Ukraine.
    The veto of the Brazilian sponsored resolution shows that America is no longer a leader of the free world. They are with thugs.

  • Richie Rich says:

    Do Israelies consider themselves Jews first or Isralies?
    This is the perennial conundrum that will separate issues and bring clarity on the sensitivity between being anti Semitic and being anti Israel the state?

    • Enver Klein says:

      Zionism and Orthodox Judaism are not the same thing. I was shocked to learn that Ultra-Orthodox Jews are guilty of anti-semitism. Semites being anti-semitic? Israelis, if true to history, are the descendants of Jacob, who was called Israel.

      • Steve Davidson says:

        I must say I’ve always been a bit confused by who’s actually a Semite. As I understand it, all of the people of the Levant are descended from Shem and so Lebanese, Syrians. Jordanians and Palestinians are semitic. It seems that only the Ashkenazi Jews – not the Sephardics – are the ones of mixed blood and can’t really call themselves Semites, so being ‘anti-semitic’ doesn’t refer to them!

  • Errol Gunn says:

    Now all the pro-palestinian supporter out there are all about the illegal pounding of Gaza by the IDF and the plight of the poor palestinian people who’re suffering and dying under the onslaught. But no one remembers what started all this which was the barbaric slaughter of innocent Israeli’s on the 7th October. Babies decapitated, mothers raped in front of their children. Mothers and fathers killed in front of their children!
    Hamas knew very well that Israel would respond in this manner – its called Israeli retribution for the brutal slaughter of its citizens on the 7th October – and that the very people they’re governing and should be taking care of like any responsible government should, would be the most affected and killed. Yet they still went ahead because they don’t care about the palestinian people and care only about their sole purpose in life, which is for the total destruction of Israel and the Jews.
    Until such time as Hamas has been totally eliminated from Gaza, there will never be peace and Gazans will forever be oppressed and controlled by a terrorist group who care only about their own self interests, not those of the people of Gaza.

    • Enver Klein says:

      There’s still no substantiated proof of your comment: “… . Babies decapitated, mothers raped in front of their children. Mothers and fathers killed in front of their children”. You believe those who control the narrative, the very ones who want Guterres to resign because he spoke the truth and didn’t stick to their narrative!

      • Steve Davidson says:

        Well said, and I remember seeing a pic of one of the hostages shaking hands with his jailer when being returned!

      • Enver Klein says:

        And while the world focusses on Gaza, the IDF are killing and arresting Palestinians in the West Bank. If the controlled narrative stated that it is Hamas that they are going after in the West Bank, you would believe that too?

  • Opi Nion says:

    An eye for an eye. Old testament stuff which belong in the realm of power mongers within Hamas and Israel leadership.

    Imagine if Israel with a moral compass responded with help and support for the oppressed in Gaza instead of destroying their homes…what a different world that would be…

  • Eberhard Knapp says:

    Notwithstanding my revulsion of those monstrous attacks of the Hamas-terrorists I applaud Mr. Guterres – as the first high-level politician in the world who spoke the truth! And Israel needs to recognise that it will never be able to live in peace unless they engage positively and constructively with Palestinians. When Palestinians can be respected and free individuals in Palestine / Israel.

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