Head of UN agency for Palestinians 'no intention' to resign

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BRUSSELS: Philippe Lazzarini, head of the United Nations agency UNRWA, said on Monday (Feb 12) he had "no intention to resign" following allegations some staff members participated in the Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct 7.

The UN agency provides aid to Palestinians in Gaza and since the allegations were made, several donor countries have suspended funding. UNRWA has launched an investigation and dismissed staff accused of involvement in the attack.

However, Israel on Monday announced a visa ban on the UN 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."

Francesca Albanese, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, during a press conference at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, July 11, 2023. (Photo: AP/Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone)

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." She said "all" special rapporteurs for the occupied Palestinian territories have been denied entry by Israel since 2008.

"This must not become a...

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