Israel announced on Monday that it would impose a visa ban on the United Nations special rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territories. This decision came after the rapporteur made comments denying that Hamas’ attack on October 7 was “antisemitic.”

Israel on Monday announced a visa ban on the United Nations special rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territories over recent comments denying Hamas’ October 7 attack was “antisemitic.”

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 antisemitic 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.”

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.

Israel’s ties with several UN bodies and representatives have soured since the start of its war with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

The ministers said in their statement that “if the UN wants to return to being a relevant body, its leaders must publicly disavow the antisemitic words of the ‘special envoy’ and fire her immediately.”

Contacted by AFP, Albanese did not comment on the Israeli decision, which would effectively also bar her entry into the occupied West Bank.

But on her X account, she said, “I refuse to be intimidated by those complicit in the perpetuation of the Nakba,” the mass displacement of Palestinians around the time of Israel’s creation in 1948.

Albanese has previously said she was “disappointed” that the response to Macron’s comments had been interpreted as her “justifying” the Hamas attack, pointing out that she had condemned it several times.

“Explaining these crimes as antisemitism obscures their true cause,” she has said, calling antisemitism a “global threat.”

UN special rapporteurs are unpaid, independent experts mandated by the Human Rights Council.

They do not speak for the United Nations but report their findings to the council’s fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms.

Israel has previously criticized Albanese after she and other UN-mandated rights experts said in November that Palestinians in war-battered Gaza were “at grave risk of genocide.”

She has also criticized the decision by several donor countries to suspend funding of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, over Israeli allegations that 12 staff members were involved in the October 7 attack.

Khalil Wakim, with AFP