GENEVA: Israel’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres was not fit to head the global body, saying he had not done enough to condemn Hamas and was too close to Iran.
His comments, made at a press conference inside the UN building in Geneva, represent an intensification of Israel’s criticism of the UN in the same week that the latter mourned the killing of more than 100 of its staff in Gaza.
“Guterres does not deserve to be the head of the UN,” Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen said.
Cohen was meeting in Geneva with the World Health Organization and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) alongside families of Israeli hostages.
“I think that Guterres like all the free nations should say clearly and loudly: free Gaza from Hamas. Everyone said Hamas is worse than Isis. Why can he not say it?” he said.
A spokesman for the UN in New York did not immediately provide a comment.
Guterres has previously said there was something “wrong” with Israel’s military operation which has killed more than 11,000 so far in retaliation for attacks by Hamas on Oct 7 which killed 1,200 people. A further 240 people were seized from Israel, including infants, the injured and the elderly.
Cohen, who met with ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric earlier on Tuesday, said he expected the neutral body to do more to gain access to the hostages.
“I think that the minimum is the Red Cross will meet the hostages; the minimum is they receive a proof of life; and the minimum (is) that they will transfer the medicine to the hostages who are needing it,” he said.
Spoljaric said the UN was trying to gain access, but said it first needed agreements in place.
“Please know that the ICRC cannot force its way in to where hostages are held,” she said.
Health minister Uriel Menachem Buso said that he would present evidence to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus later on Tuesday that Hamas is using hospitals for military purposes. Hamas denies its fighters are present.