United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres — who at one point before his current career at the international organization had also served as Prime Minister of Portugal, among many other national roles — attracted calls by Israel for him to resign this week, after saying on Tuesday during a UN Security Council meeting that the deadly Hamas attack on southern Israel “did not happen in a vacuum,” according to the Associated Press.
The same day, Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen canceled a scheduled meeting with Guterres and went on the social platform X, formerly known as Twitter, to explain his decision, according to the AP.
I will not meet with the UN Secretary-General. After the October 7th massacre, there is no place for a balanced approach. Hamas must be erased off the face of the planet!— אלי כהן | Eli Cohen (@elicoh1) October 24, 2023
Israel’s envoy to the U.N. Gilad Erdan called for Guterres’ resignation, telling Army Radio that it was “time to teach them a lesson,” according to the AP.
“We will refuse to grant visas to U.N. representatives. We have already refused to give one to Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths,” the envoy told the radio station.
Guterres received support back home, meanwhile.
“We fully understand and follow the position of António Guterres, who was unequivocal when he condemned Hamas terrorism,” Portugal’s Foreign Minister João Gomes Cravinho told Portuguese newswire Lusa, according to Expresso.
The foreign minister added that Guterres “has been the voice of international conscience” about the “deeply worrying humanitarian situation” in Gaza, according to Expresso.
Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa, meanwhile, sent the UN Secretary-General “a message of solidarity,” saying Guterres had been “exemplary” in the humanist affirmation of International Law, an official executive source told Lusa, according to Expresso.