United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has angered Israel for suggesting that the nation is not completely innocent in the Oct. 7 attacks from Hamas.
During a roundtable discussion of the United Nations Security Council, member nations spoke on the war and what they believed should be done. Guterres called for a general ceasefire in the hostilities as well as an end to what he called the “epic suffering” of people in the Gaza Strip.
Numerous prominent organizations, including the UN and the World Health Organization, have publicly called for a ceasefire in order to provide humanitarian aid. But on the Oct. 7 attacks, Guterres both condemned Hamas for its violence and said that it did not “happen in a vacuum.”
Israel has been defending its retaliatory strikes against Hamas, even recently unveiling disturbing footage from the attack as a means to justify the complete destruction of Hamas. As such, Israel was not a fan of these comments from Guterres.
The Israeli foreign minister canceled a planned meeting with Guterres after these comments were made. Gilad Erdan, the Israeli envoy to the UN, called for Guterres to resign immediately. Erdan said those comments “constitute a justification for terrorism and murder.”
The reaction to the war in Israel has been divisive among nations. But the U.S. has so far signaled support for Israel’s right to protect itself and its citizens. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed U.S. support at this UN meeting, while also calling for Israel to “avoid harm to civilians.”
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby later clarified that Blinken was not advocating for a ceasefire for humanitarian aid like his counterparts. According to Kirby, “We believe a ceasefire benefits Hamas.”
The U.S. continues to be hyperfocused on keeping the conflict contained. The possible involvement of Iran, Lebanon and others has spurred U.S. efforts to prevent an all-out war.
President Joe Biden reported Tuesday that he spoke by phone with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohamed bin Salman. A White House readout says the “two leaders agreed on pursuing broader diplomatic efforts to maintain stability across the region and prevent the conflict from expanding.”