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Israel to start scrutinizing UN staff visas

The Israeli government has repeatedly flip-flopped on the issue of admitting U.N. officials into the Jewish state.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaking at a press conference in New York City, Dec. 9, 2020. Photo: Lev Radin/Shutterstock
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaking at a press conference in New York City, Dec. 9, 2020. Photo: Lev Radin/Shutterstock

Israel may begin barring entry to United Nations officials and will decide whether to grant visas to them on a case-by-case basis, a spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed to JNS on Tuesday.

The diplomatic move was made following the “disgraceful” response by the international body to Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre, in which the terror group murdered more than 1,200 people in Israel, the Foreign Ministry added.

Until now, the Jewish state had automatically granted entry visas to U.N. personnel, according to media reports.

Jerusalem has in recent weeks accused U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, U.N. Women and other international agencies of ignoring or even legitimizing the atrocities committed by Palestinian terrorist organizations, including the murder, rape and kidnapping of civilians.

On Dec. 6, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen went as far as calling Guterres’ tenure as U.N. chief “a danger to world peace.”

Cohen’s comments came after Guterres wrote a missive to the Security Council under Article 99 of the U.N. Charter, which allows the secretary-general to bring to the council’s attention issues that he perceives as a threat to international security.

It was the first time Guterres had invoked the clause since assuming office in 2017, and the first time any U.N. chief has done so since 1989.

“I don’t think any U.N. secretary-general in history has gone so far to secure the survival of a terrorist organization,” an Israeli government spokesman subsequently told journalists.

For its part, U.N. Women, which purports to advocate for gender equity and female empowerment, took nearly 50 days to condemn Hamas terrorists for raping and sexually assaulting Israeli and other women on Oct. 7.

However, in spite of strongly worded statements, the Israeli government has repeatedly flip-flopped on the issue of admitting U.N. officials into the Jewish state.

In late October, Jerusalem announced that “each entry into Israel of U.N. officials will be examined on its merits,” adding that “Israel has expressed its severe disappointment at the conduct of U.N. bodies and statements of their leaders.”

However, on Oct. 31, Israel approved an entry visa for U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths. The Foreign Ministry said Griffiths’ trip had been authorized “at the request of other states to expedite the departure of foreign nationals from the Gaza Strip.”

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