UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan urged the United Nations on Wednesday to arrange an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and hold a General Assembly debate on the situation after the United States vetoed a resolution that called for ‘humanitarian pauses’ in Israeli attacks on the Palestinian territory.

Other Muslim nations also supported the demand for a debate in the General Assembly where no member has the power to veto a resolution.

The OIC executive committee of foreign ministers also met in New York and proposed dispatching an international protection force to “protect innocent lives from the ongoing attacks by the occupation forces and extremist colonialist settlers”.

Pakistan urged the UN to give urgent consideration to this proposal.

“Pakistan supports an immediate ceasefire. We regret that the Security Council was unable to issue a call for a ceasefire, due to the opposition and insufficient support for the resolution proposed by the Russian Federation a day before, and for the Russian amendments to the Brazilian resolution calling for a ceasefire this morning,” Islamabad’s UN envoy Munir Akram told the council.

“Although the Brazilian resolution needed considerable improvement in our view, we were surprised at the Council’s inability to adopt the Brazilian resolution due to the veto cast by a permanent member,” Ambassador Akram added.

“A heavy responsibility rests on those who have contributed to the prolonging of consistent bombing of Gaza’s citizens that is taking place.”

The Brazilian resolution received 12 votes in favour, one against and two abstentions from Russia and the UK.

“The draft resolution has not been adopted owing to the negative vote of a permanent member of the Council,” Brazil’s UN envoy Sergio Franca Danese said after the vote.

“Our proposed text unequivocally condemned all forms of violence against civilians, including the heinous acts of terrorism by Hamas, and the taking of hostages. It called for their immediate and unconditional release,” said Danese.

Russia’s UN envoy, Vassily Nebenzia, accused the United States of hypocrisy, claiming that “they really did not want to have any solution here”.

American envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield said US leaders were on the ground in Israel, trying their diplomacy.

“While we recognise Brazil’s desire to move this text forward, we believe we need to let that diplomacy play out,” she said, adding that US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken had already spoken to UN chief Antonio Guterres.

Addressing the emergency meeting, UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland called for an inquiry into a strike against a Gaza hospital that killed hundreds, including patients, staff and displaced people seeking shelter.

Pakistan and Palestine blamed Israel for the bombing.

“Pakistan strongly and unequivocally condemns Israel’s cowardly and criminal attack on the Al Ahli hospital yesterday, killing hundreds,” Ambassador Akram said.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2023

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