Israel to halt automatic visas for UN employees amid rising tensions

Israel to halt automatic visas for UN employees amid rising tensions

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Israel on Tuesday announced it will halt automatic visas for United Nations employees amid rising tensions with the intergovernmental organization over Israel’s war with Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza.

Israel will now consider such visa requests on a “case-by-case basis,” saying the country will no longer work with “those cooperate with Hamas’s terror regime’s propaganda machine,” Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy said Tuesday.

“International officials have been deflecting blame onto Israel to cover up for the fact that they are covering up for Hamas in failing to condemn Hamas for hijacking aid and failing to condemn it for waging war out of hospitals,” Levy said.

Levy said Israel is urging its allies to follow suit and “stand up for basic integrity.”

The United Nations did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

Tensions between Israel and the United Nations have escalated in recent weeks, following the body’s repeated calls for a cease-fire in Gaza. More than 20,900 Palestinians have been killed since early October, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza.

Israel has remained steadfast in its campaign to destroy Hamas, which has run Gaza since 2007, and its military capabilities following the militant group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel that left about 1,200 people dead.

Several United Nations officials have condemned Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks, but calls for a cease-fire and greater aid have come to the forefront in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, the U.N. overwhelmingly passed a nonbinding resolution for a cease-fire in Gaza, with just 10 countries — including the U.S. and Israel — voting against the resolution.

Several U.N. leaders, including U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, have repeatedly advocated for increased aid to Gaza and a cease-fire, citing a near collapse of the humanitarian system in the coastal enclave.

The U.N. Security Council last week passed a resolution calling to up the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip and for the release of the remaining hostages held by Hamas. Hamas is believed to have taken about 240 people hostage during its Oct. 7 incursion into Israel, and it released about 100 of these individuals during a week-long cease-fire last month.

The U.S. did not vote in favor of the most recent resolution but also did not block it. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the U.N. Security Council made clear last week addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza “needs to remain at the forefront of our agenda.”

While the U.S. has not joined calls for a cease-fire, the White House and other U.S. officials said they have upped calls on Israel to take greater caution in minimizing civilian deaths in Gaza.

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