UNGA adopts resolution for truce in Gaza

Published October 28, 2023
Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Munir Akram speaks during the 10th Emergency Special Session (resumed) 39th plenary meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the United Nations headquarters in New York City on October 27, 2023. — AFP
Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Munir Akram speaks during the 10th Emergency Special Session (resumed) 39th plenary meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the United Nations headquarters in New York City on October 27, 2023. — AFP

UNITED NATIONS: The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on Friday that calls for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce” in Gaza by 120 to 14 votes, with 45 abstentions.

The United States was among the 14 countries that opposed the resolution.

Canada, however, proposed an amendment condemning Hamas for the Oct 7 attacks, but failed to get the required two-thirds of the present votes. Eighty-three countries voted in favor of the Canadian proposal, 55 voted against it and 23 abstained. The United States also voted in favour of the Canadian amendment.

Jordan presented the truce resolution on behalf of Arab and OIC nations, with support from more than 40 UN member states, including Egypt, Oman and UAE.

The resolution demands that all parties comply with international humanitarian law and “continuous, sufficient and unhindered” provision of essential supplies and services into the Gaza Strip.

Munir Akram calls on Canada to name Israel in their resolution, terms the occupation ‘original sin’

It also calls for the “immediate and unconditional release” of all civilians held captive as well as demanding their safety, well-being and humane treatment in compliance with international law.

The Canadian amendment called for “unequivocally rejecting and condemning the terrorist attacks by Hamas” in Israel starting 7 October and the taking of hostages.

Several countries including the US, spoke forcefully in favour of the amendment as the UNGA resumed the special emergency session on Friday, the second day of the two-day debate.

Draft resolutions do not represent the official position of the General Assembly until adopted.

After voting, the debate resumed with dozens more countries due to take the podium.

‘Original sin’

In a powerful speech rebutting Canada’s explanation, Pakistan’s ambassador Munir Akram said that if Canada was being fair in its amendment, it would agree to name Israel as well as Hamas.

Not naming either side was the best choice, he said, as the Jordanian resolution does. “Israel needs to be named too, if you are to be fair and equitable and just”, he said.

“We all know who started this. It is 50 years of Israeli occupation and the killing of Palestinians with impunity, he said. Israel can’t face the truth or face justice. The Israeli occupation is the original sin, not what happened on 7 October, he added.

“I am sure all of us are also appalled at the vicious and callous way that the Palestinians are being slaughtered – by cowardly aerial bombardment and long range artillery,” the Pakistani envoy said. “The Palestinians are being crucified not by a militant organization but by the government, which claims to be a democratic.”

UN Secretary General António Guterres repeated his call for a humanitarian ceasefire in the Middle East, the unconditional release of all hostages, and the delivery of life-saving supplies at the scale needed.

“Everyone must assume their responsibilities. This is a moment of truth. History will judge us all,” he said.

UNGA President Dennis Francis said that he “stood before the General Assembly, this morning – deeply disturbed and distraught as we gather amidst the gravest escalation of violence and hostility in the Middle East in decades.”

He urged UN member states to use Friday’s session to “unify our purpose and our actions to save lives and to end violence.”

France’s Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière speaking after the resolution passed, said his delegation voted in favour, as “nothing justifies the killing of civilians”.

“We have to work collectively to set up a humanitarian truce because the situation in Gaza is catastrophic,” he said, noting that France has already sent an aid vessel. “The Assembly must call for the release of hostages.”

However, the adoption of this resolution cannot replace the Security Council’s efforts nor the decisions that the organ must now adopt, he said, expressing hope that the Council can reach a decision.

“We have a duty to prevent a worsening of the situation,” he said. “The only viable solution is a two-State solution.”

Gilad Erdan, Ambassador of Israel to the UN, said in response to the resolution passing that “today is a day that will go down in infamy”.

“We have all witnessed that the UN holds not even one ounce of legitimacy,” he said. “The UN is committed to ensuring further atrocities. According to the family of nations, Israel has no right to defend itself.”

As the UN votes on the Israel-Gaza war, Palestine can only observe.

As a non-member observer, Palestine can speak at UN meetings but can’t vote on resolutions about the situation in Gaza.

“I appeal to all of you to vote to stop the killing. Vote for humanitarian aid to reach those whose very survival depends on it. Vote to stop this madness,” Palestine’s UN ambassador Riyad Mansour said in an emotional speech to the UN General Assembly on Thursday.

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2023

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