Israel’s decisive action in denying entry to Francesca Albanese has been widely praised as a necessary and appropriate response to her militant and partisan stances on the Gaza conflict as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Occupied Territories. Albanese’s remarks linking the October 7 massacre to Israeli oppression have drawn sharp criticism from Israeli officials and allies.
On Monday, February 12, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz and Interior Minister Moshe Arbel issued a joint statement condemning Albanese’s statements as “outrageous” and “antisemitic.” They called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to denounce her remarks and remove her from her position.
“The time for Jewish silence is over. In order for the UN to regain credibility, Antonio Guterres must unequivocally denounce the antisemitic statements of their ‘special envoy’ Francesca Albanese and immediately remove her from her position. Preventing her entry into Israel will serve as a harsh reminder of the atrocities committed by Hamas, including the ruthless attack on innocents,” said Katz and Arbel in their joint statement.
French President Emmanuel Macron‘s characterization of the October 7 massacre as “the largest antisemitic massacre of our century” was rebuffed by Albanese, who argued that the victims were targeted in response to Israeli oppression rather than their Jewishness. “The ‘greatest antisemitic massacre of our century’? No, Mr. Emmanuel Macron. The victims of 7/10 were not killed because of their Judaism, but in response to Israeli oppression. France and the international community did nothing to prevent it. My respects to the victims,” Albanese wrote on X in response to Macron’s remarks.
Israel’s decision has garnered support from the United States and Germany. Ambassador Michele Taylor, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council, condemned Albanese’s history of using antisemitic tropes and justifying Hamas’ actions. Similarly, Annalena Baerbock, the German Foreign Ministry, criticized Albanese for her statements, labeling them as disgraceful and contradictory to the values of the United Nations. “Francesca Albanese has a history of using antisemitic tropes. Her recent statements justifying, dismissing, and denying the antisemitic undertones of Hamas’ October 7 attack are unacceptable and antisemitic. We expect more from independent UN experts and condemn all forms of antisemitism,” said Ambassador Taylor in her statement. “Making such statements in a UN capacity is a disgrace and goes against everything the United Nations stands for,” stated the German Foreign Ministry in a tweet.
In a report for The Jewish Chronicle, Daniel Ben-David highlighted Albanese’s controversial anti-Zionist record, which includes accusations against Israel for being a “colonial-settler enterprise” and appearances on Hezbollah-affiliated platforms. In the past, Professor Riccardo Puglisi also raised concerns about her alleged misrepresentation regarding her husband’s affiliation and her admission to the Italian Bar.
In response to the fracas, The International Legal Forum has, like Katz and Arbel, called on Guterres to remove Albanese from her position, citing her history of antisemitism and bias against Israel. In a letter, dated February 12 and signed by the group’s CEO, Arsen Ostrovsky, the ILF charges Albanese of harbouring “not even the pretext” of impartiality and objectivity, two notions which should guide her work under the UN Code of Conduct for Special Rapporteurs.
The 47-year-old from Avellino near Naples remains defiant, though, emphasizing the need to focus on Israel’s actions in Gaza rather than her denied entry, further igniting the ongoing scrutiny surrounding her statements and role within the UN. “Israel’s denying me entry … 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,” tweeted Albanese, undeterred by the Israeli government’s decision.
As the controversy rages on, one thing remains clear: Francesca Albanese’s exclusion from Israel is not just about her, but about the larger battle against antisemitism and the quest for justice in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.