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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (C) speaks during a press conference at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

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Israel’s representative to the U.N. called for the resignation of the organization’s secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, following his remarks on the Israel-Hamas conflict and action in Gaza.

Speaking on Tuesday at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, Guterres reiterated his call for a humanitarian pause of Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip, which has been sealed off from Israel’s supplies of fuel, food, water and electricity. Israel is carrying out a military campaign against Palestinian militant group Hamas, which launched a multipronged attack against Israel two weeks prior.

While stating he has “condemned unequivocally the horrifying and unprecedented 7 October acts of terror by Hamas in Israel,” Guterres said “it is important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum,” pointing to “56 years of suffocating occupation” suffered by the Palestinian people.

“The grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas,” he added. “Nothing can justify the deliberate killing, injuring and kidnapping of civilians — or the launching of rockets against civilian targets.”

Guterres last week traveled to Egypt to oversee U.N. preparations for a convoy bringing in humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Israel’s foreign minister, Eli Cohen, responded to the speech by listing the names of children killed in the Hamas attacks and asking, “Mr. Secretary-General, in what world do you live? Definitely, this is not our world.”

He later posted in a Google-translated social media update that he will not meet with Guterres and that “there is no room for a balanced approach. Hamas must be erased from the world!”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations Gilad Erdan addresses the press on the situation in the Middle East at the United Nations Headquarters while accompanied with family members of individuals kidnapped by Hamas on October 24, 2023 in New York City. Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations Gilad Erdan called for the resignation of Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres for not supporting Israel. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

David Dee Delgado | Getty Images News | Getty Images

In a press briefing following the U.N. Security Council meeting, Gilad Erdan, Israel’s representative to the U.N., demanded Guterres’ resignation for his comments.

“The U.N. is failing, and you, Mr. Secretary-General, have lost all morality and impartiality. Because when you say those terrible words that these heinous attacks did not happen in a vacuum, you are tolerating terrorism, and I think that the secretary-general must resign,” he said. “Because from now on, every day that he is here in this building, unless he apologizes immediately, today, we called him to apologize, there’s no justification to the existence of this building. “

The U.N. did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.

In a Google-translated social media post, Erdan later called Guterres’ speech “shocking” and said, “It is sad that at the head of an organization that arose after the Holocaust is a person with such views.”

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The diplomatic conflict with Guterres coincides with nascent tensions between the Israeli military and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which has repeatedly called for safe passage to distribute resources in the Gaza Strip and for additional supplies, critically fuel — without which, it says it will need to end operations on Wednesday night. The Israel Defense Forces insisted fuel volumes exist inside Gaza, telling UNRWA to “ask Hamas if you can have some.”

Israel has come under fire from human rights groups, which question whether the country’s military response in the Gaza Strip has been proportionate, and whether the displacement and harm suffered by Palestinian civilians risk bringing Israel in breach of international law. Several Western officials, including close ally Washington, have stressed Israel’s right to self-defense following the Hamas offensives.

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