Israel backtracks on refusing to grant entry visas to UN officials

AP , Tuesday 31 Oct 2023

Israeli officials are going back on their promised refusal to grant entry visas to UN officials.

Gilad Erdan
Gilad Erdan, Israel s UN ambassador in his office at the Israeli Embassy in Jerusalem. AFP


Martin Griffiths, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, tweeted Monday that he was in Israel, less than a week after Israel’s UN ambassador said it had “refused” to grant Griffiths a visa.

Israeli officials had expressed outrage over comments last Wednesday by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that the offensive led by Hamas on  Oct. 7, “did not happen in a vacuum.”

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s UN ambassador, accused Guterres on Israel’s Army Radio of justifying Hamas offensive operation, called for his resignation and said Israel would “refuse to grant visas to UN representatives.”

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Guterres stood by his remarks.

On Monday, Israel’s ambassador in Geneva, Meirav Eilon Shahar, said, “We haven’t said categorically that we’re not giving visas. We are … We understand their need to be there.”

Eilon Shahar confirmed that Griffiths was in Israel, as well as other officials, including Han Kluge, the regional head of the World Health Organization.

But she continued to voice Israel’s frustration that UN institution chiefs didn’t speak out more forcefully against Hamas militants.

“The United Nations has let down the people of Israel,” Eilon Shahar added. “When I say the United Nations, I’m talking about the multilateral organizations have let down the people of Israel.”

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