Erdan: 'Secretary-General has reached a new moral low'

Israeli FM accuses UN head of backing Hamas after he uses rare clause to urge truce

Eli Cohen says Antonio Guterres’ term a ‘danger to world peace’ in tweet lashing UN chief for letter on Gaza to Security Council under Article 99 of UN Charter, in 1st since 1989

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during an interview at the United Nations headquarters ahead of the COP28 meeting in New York, November 29, 2023. (Andrea RENAULT / AFP)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during an interview at the United Nations headquarters ahead of the COP28 meeting in New York, November 29, 2023. (Andrea RENAULT / AFP)

Israel’s foreign minister accused United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of supporting Palestinian terror group Hamas, called for his resignation, and said his tenure as head of the world body was “a danger to world peace,” in a furious reaction on Wednesday to a letter Guterres wrote pressing for an immediate ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas and his invocation of a rare clause in the UN charter to urge Security Council intervention.

Eli Cohen said Guterres’ call for a ceasefire in the two-month war in Gaza, sparked by Hamas’s October 7 atrocities in southern Israel, “constitutes support” for the Palestinian terror organization and was “an endorsement of the murder of the elderly, the abduction of babies, and the rape of women.”

Hamas’s October 7 assault saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people and seizing some 240 hostages of all ages under the cover of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. The vast majority of those killed were civilians, and about half of those taken hostage were women and children, including infants and toddlers. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 360 were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists.

Graphic accounts from survivors of the attack and those who prepared bodies for burial detail acts of horrific sexual violence, gang rape, and mutilation carried out against women and girls by Hamas-led terrorists on October 7. An ongoing police investigation has been exploring evidence of post-mortem mutilation.

Guterres has repeatedly called for a ceasefire in the unfolding war, and on Wednesday he wrote to the 15-member Security Council under Article 99 of the UN Charter for the first time since he took the helm of the 193-member world body in 2017. It is also the first time any secretary-general has made use of it since 1989. The article allows the secretary-general to bring to the council’s attention any matter that he believes threatens international peace and security.

Calling for a “humanitarian cease-fire,” Guterres said the humanitarian conditions in Gaza amid the Israel-Hamas war were “fast deteriorating into a catastrophe with potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians as a whole.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press conference with Egypt’s Foreign Minister (not pictured) following their meeting in Cairo on October 19, 2023. (Khaled Desouki/AFP)

Guterres said the desperate conditions in the Palestinian enclave and the breakdown of public order will make humanitarian assistance impossible. He warned that “an even worse situation could unfold, including epidemic diseases and increased pressure for mass displacement into neighboring countries.”

“The international community has a responsibility to use all its influence to prevent further escalation and end this crisis,” Guterres said.

Cohen tweeted an angry response, writing that Guterres’ term as head of the UN was “a danger to world peace.”

“Anyone who supports world peace must support the liberation of Gaza from Hamas,” said Cohen.


Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas and pursue its leaders in Gaza and elsewhere. The Israeli military says it is making efforts to avoid harm to civilians while fighting terrorists embedded deeply within the civilian population of the Strip.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan also castigated Guterres on Wednesday, and again called on him to resign. Erdan first demanded the UN chief step down about two weeks after Hamas’s October 7 attacks, when Guterres appeared to suggest the impetus for the devastating assault was Israel’s continued control of Palestinian territories.

At a UN Security Council meeting on October 24, Guterres said it was “important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum.”

Erdan, at the time, said Guterres’ comments were “shocking” and called on him to “resign immediately.” Cohen also canceled a meeting with Guterres in response, and war cabinet Minister Benny Gantz labeled the UN chief a “terror apologist.”

From left, Gilad Erdan, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, and Dani Dayan, chairman of Yad Vashem, browse the Yad Vashem Book of Names of Holocaust Victims Exhibit, January 26, 2023, at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/ John Minchillo/ File)

On Wednesday, Erdan said the “Secretary-General has reached a new moral low” after he “decided to activate this rare clause only when it allows him to put pressure on Israel, which is fighting the Nazi Hamas terrorists.”

“This is more proof of the Secretary-General’s moral distortion and his bias against Israel. The Secretary-General’s call for a ceasefire is actually a call to keep Hamas’s reign of terror in Gaza. Instead of the Secretary-General explicitly pointing to Hamas’s responsibility for the situation and calling on the terrorist leaders to turn themselves in and return the hostages, thus ending the war, the Secretary-General chooses to continue playing into Hamas’ hands,” Erdan said.

“I again call on the Secretary-General to resign immediately — the UN needs a Secretary-General who supports the war on terror, not a Secretary-General who acts according to the script written by Hamas.”

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