TEL AVIV – The Israeli government refused a visa to the United Nations special rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territories, it emerged on Monday.
Israel announced the visa ban on Francesca Albanese following her recent comments disputing the characterization of Hamas’ October 7 attack as antisemitic.
Albanese, an independent expert appointed by the UN, expressed disagreement with French President Emmanuel Macron’s description of the attack as “the biggest antisemitic massacre of our century,”.
The activist took a different stance on platform X and consequently was denied the visa by the authorities which have taken similar action in the past.
“No, the victims of 7/10 were not killed because of their Jewishness but in response to Israeli oppression,” she had said.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz and Interior Minister Moshe Arbel condemned Albanese’s remarks as “outrageous” and announced that she would be denied entry to the country, with instructions given to immigration authorities not to issue her a visa besides calling for her dismissal.
The Israeli ministers also emphasized that for the UN to regain relevance, its leaders must publicly disavow Albanese’s remarks and terminate her employment.
Tensions between Israel and various UN bodies and representatives have escalated since the conflict with Hamas began in October last year.
On the other hand, Albanese posted multiple messages on her social media account denouncing the decision.
“I refuse to be intimidated by those complicit in the perpetuation of the Nakba. Denial won’t erase the tragedy, as history repeats with even greater ferocity,” she said referencing the mass displacement of Palestinians during Israel’s creation in 1948.
‘BREAKING: Israel’s “denying me entry” is not news: Israel has denied entry to ALL Special Rapporteurs/oPt since 2008! This must not become a distraction from Israel’s atrocities in Gaza, which are taking a new level of horror with the bombing of people in ‘safe areas’ in #Rafah,’ she said in another post.
Albanese has previously clarified that her remarks were not meant to justify the Hamas attack and has condemned it multiple times. She views antisemitism as a global threat but believes that labeling such crimes solely as antisemitism obscures their underlying causes.
UN special rapporteurs, including Albanese, serve as independent experts mandated by the Human Rights Council to report their findings to the council’s fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Israel has criticized Albanese in the past, particularly for her comments regarding Palestinians in Gaza and the suspension of funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, over allegations involving the October 7 attack.
In December last year, it was also reported that the Israeli authorities refused a visa for Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths and two of the UN employees due to their stance on the ongoing Israel-Palestine war that has left over 28,000 Palestinians dead to this day.