New York, The Gulf Observer: The UN General Assembly adopted on Friday a resolution calling for a “sustained humanitarian truce” and the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas militants.
The vote on the non-binding resolution came as Israel announced an expansion of ground operations in Gaza.
The Jordanian draft was proposed in the name of 22 Arab countries. It was co-sponsored by 47 states including China and was approved with 120 votes in favour, 14 against and 45 abstained.
With Israel, Canada and the United States criticising the text for failing to mention Hamas, the vote on the text revealed divisions among western countries. France voted for the measure; Germany, Italy and Britain abstained; while Austria and the US voted against.
The resolution’s passage marked the UN’s first response to the October 7 Hamas assault on Israel.
After the UN Security Council failed four times to pass any resolution on the war between Israel and Hamas, the UN’s Arab Group turned to the 193-member General Assembly to weigh in on the conflict.
The text calls for “an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities” and demands that essential supplies be allowed into the Gaza Strip.
It also condemns “all acts of violence aimed at Palestinian and Israeli civilians, including all acts of terrorism and indiscriminate attacks”, without specifically mentioning Hamas.
Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour lauded the passing of the resolution, saying “the world still has goodness … Palestinians are not orphans … our Arab brothers stood with us”.
He told reporters the resolution had sent a clear message.
“Enough is enough, this war has to stop, this carnage has to stop and humanitarian assistance has to start,” he said.
He stressed the importance of Arab unity in passing the resolution pass and added: “I am so proud to be with this group [of Arab representatives] who carried Palestine high on their shoulders … all the gratitude from the Palestinian people.”
Speaking to reporters at UN headquarters, UAE ambassador Lana Nusseibeh called the UN General Assembly vote a “rejection of the status quo that is currently happening on the ground in Gaza. Humanitarian aid must go in, there must be a humanitarian ceasefires or truces”.
Ms Nusseibeh, who praised the Arab unity on working on the resolution, and the support of 120 countries, said the vote carries “moral weight and moral authority” and that it will be taken it to the Security Council.
Israel UN ambassador Gilad Erdan rejected the UN resolution, calling it an “infamy” and affirmed Israel’s commitment to self-defence.
“Today is a day that will go down as infamy. We have all witnessed that the UN no longer holds even one ounce of legitimacy or relevance,” he said.
Still, not all Arab countries voted in favour. Iraq and Tunisia abstained, though Iraq later changed its vote and approved the resolution.
Tunisia’s UN representative Tarek Al Adab, just told Tunisian National Radio that the resolution did not go far enough in condemning “the war crimes and genocide carried out by the [Israeli] occupation”.
Before Friday’s vote, the US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield called the resolution “outrageous” for not mentioning Hamas, saying the omission was “detrimental” to the vision of a two-state solution.
“The lives of innocent Palestinians must be protected. The lives of UN personnel and humanitarian workers and journalists must be protected. And we mourn – we mourn the loss of every single innocent life in this crisis. Every single one. We must not look away.”
Canada, supported by the US and Britain, proposed an amendment that “unequivocally rejected and condemned the terrorist attacks by Hamas” and the group’s seizure of hostages.
“We cannot not act as a General Assembly of the United Nations without acknowledging the terrible events of the seventh of October and without condemning the terrorists who are responsible for this,” Bob Rae, Canada’s UN ambassador, told member states.
But the amendment failed to get the two-thirds majority needed to pass.
The majority of Arab nations echoed the United Nations’ plea to give top priority to safeguarding civilians and saving the lives of Palestinians impacted by the blockade in Gaza imposed by Israel.
Oman, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Co-operation Council, condemned Israel’s “siege” of Gaza, starvation of its population and collective punishment of Palestinians.
But, Oman said, the Palestinians will not be deterred from demanding their “legitimate inalienable rights, chief among them the right to self- determination and the right to establish an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital”.
Egypt’s UN ambassador Osama Mahmoud Abdelkhalek Mahmoud emphasised that silence is no longer acceptable.
“The General Assembly must send a clear, unequivocal message these necessities must be delivered to Gaza without any conditions. Denial of humanitarian aid under these circumstances is a death sentence for the people of Gaza,” he said.