JERUSALEM: Israel on Monday announced a visa ban on the United Nations special rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territories over recent comments denying Hamas’s October 7 attack was “anti-Semitic”.
The UN-appointed independent expert, Francesca Albanese, last week said she disagreed with French President Emmanuel Macron’s description of the attack, which triggered a full-blown war, as “the biggest anti-Semitic massacre of our century”.
“No”, Albanese wrote in French on social media platform X. “The victims of 7/10 were not killed because of their Jewishness but in response to Israeli oppression.”
Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz and Interior Minister Moshe Arbel called her online remark “outrageous” and said in a statement she was now “denied entry to the State of Israel”.
The immigration authorities had been instructed not to issue Albanese a visa, they added, also calling for her dismissal.
In response, Albanese wrote on X: “Israel’s ‘denying me entry’ is not news.”
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She said “all” special rapporteurs for the occupied Palestinian territories have been denied entry by Israel since 2008.
“This must not become a distraction from Israel’s atrocities in Gaza, which are taking a new level of horror with the bombing of people in ‘safe areas’ in Rafah.”
Israel’s ties with several UN bodies and representatives have soured since the start of its war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli ministers said in their statement that “if the UN wants to return to being a relevant body, its leaders must publicly disavow the anti-Semitic words of the ‘special envoy’ – and fire her immediately.”
Albanese has previously said she was “disappointed” that the response to Macron’s comments had been interpreted as her “justifying” the Hamas attack, pointing out that she had condemned it several times.