Colombo, October 26: With Israel calling for the immediate resignation of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for allegedly equating Israel and Hamas, the US, which determines who will be UN Secretary General, could come under pressure to seek Guterres’ resignation.

And it will not be surprising if President Joe Biden chooses to oblige Israel for the larger purpose of getting it to agree to call off the planned ground offensive in Gaza and to move towards a workable Two-State solution to the Palestinian question.

Guterres’ stand on the Gaza issue is not too different from that of President Biden, in as much as both have called for looking at the Palestinian side of the issue and both have sought observance of the laws of war. But Israel has turned its wrath only on the Secretary-General, even accusing him of “blood libel.”

Guterres is a high-profile target for Israel to vent its wrath on, but he is also a symbolic target whose removal will not affect Israel’s relations with its staunchest ally, the US.

Therefore, in any settlement with the US in regard to ending or minimizing the hostilities in Gaza, Israel may find it convenient to make Guterres a scapegoat.

And the Benjamin Netanyahu government, which is under tremendous pressure within the country to own up on its failure to thwart the October 7 Hamas assault, has to find scapegoats. And Guterres would be an ideal scapegoat.

To politically manage its discomfiture at home and abroad, Israel will stick to its serious charge of “blood libel” and anti-Israel bias against Guterres. And it is not unlikely that it will continue to ban the entry of UN agencies and officials.

The US, which is now worried about the wider implications of the Gaza war with the possible active involvement of Iran and Russia, may be forced to placate Israel to get some agreement on the prosecution of the war and going for a political solution. In this process scapegoating Guterres cannot be ruled out.

Guterres has denied that he is one-sided. “I am shocked by the misrepresentations by some of my statement … as if I was justifying acts of terror by Hamas. This is false. It was the opposite,” he said on Wednesday.

He pointed out that in his speech at the UN Security Council, he had stated that the grievances of the Palestinian people could not justify the appalling attacks by Hamas.

But this has not satisfied Israel, which wants an unequivocal endorsement for its stand from the UN and its chief. It is therefore expected to keep pressing for Guterres’ resignation.

In Israel’s view, it is fighting for its very survival, facing an exceptionally powerful non-State group backed by the money of Qatar and material and organizational support of Iran, entities at odds with the US too.

Case of Count Bernadotte in 1948

Back in 1948, Israel faced a similar situation. Its birth was being throttled by the surrounding Arab States. And the UN was imposing a two-State solution.

In anger, a Zionist terrorist group, assassinated the then UN Secretary General, Count Folke Bernadotte, even though during World War II, the Count had rescued 31,000 prisoners including 450 Jews from Nazi concentration camps in 1945 through negotiations with the Nazis.

After the war, the Swedish Count was unanimously chosen by the UN  Security Council as a mediator in the Arab–Israeli conflict of 1947–1948. But the paramilitary Zionist group called “Lehi” or the “Stern Gang” assassinated him.

The Zionist terrorist group doubted the Count’s pro-Jewish credentials and thought he was actually in cahoots with the Nazis during the war.

After the assassination, Lehi was disarmed and many members were arrested. But no punishment was meted out by the Israeli government. One of killers, Yellin-Mor, was even elected to the Israel parliament.

The Swedish government believed that Bernadotte was assassinated by Israeli government agents. It campaigned to delay Israel’s admission to the United Nations. But in 1950, Sweden recognized Israel.

Kofi Annan’s Problems with US

The case of Kofi Annan shows how important it is for a UN Secretary General to have good relations with the US to be able to do his work as per his own plan.

Kofi Annan kept having run-ins with the US. Though he was not asked to go, he was replaced when his second term came to an end in 2006. He was replaced by the pro-US South Korean diplomat Ban Ki Moon.

Annan and the US fell out in 2003 when the US launched the war against Iraq without receiving approval from the UN Security Council. Annan criticised the war which strained relations with the US.

Later, in 2003, Annan appointed a panel to explore the UN’s response to global threats. He included many of its recommendations in a major reform package he presented to the UN General Assembly in 2005. Based on the panel’s report, he proposed expansion of the Security Council from 15 to 24 members. The US and its allies rejected it.

In 2005 Annan was again at the centre of controversy following an investigation into the oil-for-food program, which had allowed Iraq—then under UN supervision—to sell a set amount of oil in order to purchase food, medicine, and other necessities. A report described major corruption within the program and revealed that Annan’s son was part of a Swiss business that had won an oil-for-food contract. Although Annan was cleared of wrongdoing, he was criticized for his failure to properly oversee the program.

In 2006 Annan’s term ended.  He was replaced by Ban Ki-Moon.