AP/ PTI

UN General Assembly calls for ‘humanitarian truce’ in Gaza leading to halt in Israel-Hamas fighting

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United Nations: The U.N. General Assembly approved a nonbinding resolution Friday calling for a “humanitarian truce” in Gaza leading to a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, the first United Nations response to the ongoing war.
The 193-member world body adopted the Arab-drafted resolution by a vote of 120-14 with 45 abstentions after rejecting a Canadian amendment backed by the United States. It would have unequivocally condemned the Oct. 7 “terrorist attacks” on Israel by Hamas and demanded the immediate release of hostages taken by Hamas.
The votes came part way through a list of 113 speakers at an emergency special session on Israeli actions in occupied Palestinian territories. Jordan’s U.N. Ambassador Mahmoud Hmoud, speaking on behalf of the U.N.’s 22-nation Arab group, had called for action on the resolution because of the urgency of the escalating situation on the ground.
The Arab group went to the General Assembly after the more powerful 15-member Security Council failed to agree on a resolution after four attempts over the past two weeks. While council resolutions are legally binding, assembly resolutions are not, but they do serve as a barometer of world opinion.
The vote on the Canadian amendment was 88-55 with 23 abstentions, but it failed to get a two-thirds majority of all those voting.
Before the vote, Hmoud urged its defeat, saying “Israel is responsible for the atrocities that are being committed now, and that will be committed in the ground invasion of Gaza.”
While the surprise Hamas attacks killed some 1,400 Israelis, more than 7,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
Canada’s U.N. Ambassador Robert Rae countered that it appears from the resolution that the events of Oct. 7 have been forgotten. The amendment would condemn Hamas, “which is responsible for one of the worst terrorist attacks in history.”
Pakistan’s U.N. Ambassador Munir Akran drew loud applause when he said the Arab-drafted resolution deliberately didn’t condemn or mention Israel or name any other party. “If Canada was really equitable,” Akram said, “it would agree either to name everybody — both sides who are guilty of having committed crimes — or it would not name either as we chose.”
The assembly’s emergency special session, which began Wednesday, continued Friday morning with U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield echoing Israel’s envoy in calling the resolution “outrageous” for never mentioning Hamas and saying it is “detrimental” to the vision of a two-state solution.
She called it “a perilous moment for Israelis and Palestinians,” stressing that there is no justification for Hamas “terror,” that Palestinians are being used as human shields and that “the lives of innocent Palestinians must be protected.”
Oman, speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, condemned Israel’s “siege” of Gaza, starvation of its population and collective punishment of Palestinians. But it said the Palestinians won’t 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.”
In addition to calling for “an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities,” the resolution adopted Friday demands that all parties immediately comply with their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law requiring protection of civilians and the schools, hospitals and other infrastructure critical for their survival.
The resolution demands that essential supplies be allowed into the Gaza Strip and humanitarian workers have sustained access. And it calls on Israel to rescind its order for Gazans to evacuate the north and move to the south and “firmly rejects any attempts at the forced transfer of the Palestinian civilian population.”
The resolution also stresses the need “to urgently establish a mechanism to ensure the protection of the Palestinian civilian population.”
And it “emphasizes the importance of preventing further destabilization and escalation of violence in the region” and calls on all parties to exercise “maximum restraint” and on all those with influence to press them “to work toward this objective.”
During the emergency session on Thursday, speaker after speaker backed the Arab Group’s original draft resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, except for Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan who told the assembly, “A cease-fire means giving Hamas time to rearm itself, so they can massacre us again.”
But the calls for a cease-fire, the protection of Palestinian civilians facing constant Israeli bombardments in Gaza and the delivery of desperately needed food, water, medicine and fuel were passionate and intense.
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, said 70% of those killed in Gaza were children and women. “If you do not stop it for all those who were killed, stop it for all those whose lives we can still save,” he said.

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