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31 Jan, 2024 08:28

UN chief must resign – Israel

Antonio Guterres is responsible for the actions of refugee agency workers whom Israel accuses of aiding Hamas, Israel Katz said
UN chief must resign – Israel

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres must resign from the post that he has held since 2017, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz has said.

The demand follows allegations made by the Jewish state earlier this month that 12 employees of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) were involved in the incursion into Israel by Hamas on October 7.

”Of course [Guterres] is responsible as UN secretary-general” for the actions of UNRWA staff, Katz said in an interview with Politico’s parent company Axel Springer on Tuesday. “Guterres must resign” or “the UN must replace him,” he added.

The UN chief “ignored many complaints and information regarding the behavior of the aid organization, as well as indications of cooperation with Hamas,” the foreign minister claimed. Israel believes that UNRWA is “almost fully cooperating with Hamas,” he said.

According to Katz, UNRWA – which runs schools, hospitals and aid programs in refugee camps in Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan – “is not part of the solution, it is part of the problem.” It must be replaced with a new agency, “in which the Arab states should be more involved than before,” he said.

Israel hasn’t yet provided evidence for its allegations against UN staff to the public, but the foreign minister said details would be sent to “countries such as the US and Germany.”

On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Israeli allegations were “highly credible,” but acknowledged that Washington had not been able to investigate them independently.

The New York Times reported on Sunday, citing a secret Israeli government report, that the UNRWA workers helped Hamas to kidnap Israelis, and armed Palestinian fighters on October 7.

In a statement on Sunday, Guterres said “the abhorrent alleged acts of these staff members must have consequences,” including criminal prosecution. However, he urged countries not to follow in the footsteps of the US, Germany and Italy, who cut funding of UNRWA. Some 2 million Palestinian civilians in Gaza depend on the aid provided by the agency to survive, the UN chief noted.

According to the UN, it fired nine UNRWA employees in connection with the allegations. One is believed to have died, while two others have yet to be identified.

Israel also demanded Guterres’ resignation in October after he said the attack on the country “did not happen in a vacuum” as it followed “56 years of suffocating occupation” of Palestinian lands.