UN General Assembly approves call for ‘cessation of hostilities’ in Gaza

The UN General Assembly on Friday approved by an overwhelming majority (120 to 14, with 45 abstentions) a resolution calling for a “cessation of hostilities” in Gaza, the first to be adopted by a UN body after four failed attempts by the Security Council.

At the end of the vote, much of the room erupted in applause.

The resolution, which includes a rejection of the forcible transfer of Palestinian civilians, was opposed by the United States, Israel and other allied countries, but supported by Arab countries, Russia and China, while the European Union voted in a split vote.

The resolution was co-sponsored by more than 50 states, including Arab and Muslim countries.

Canada and the US tried in the final hours to introduce an additional amendment to the text that would include an explicit condemnation of the Hamas attacks of Oct. 7, but it failed, garnering only 88 votes in an additional vote, less than the required two-thirds.

The representative of Pakistan, speaking before the two votes, explained that the amendment was unjustified because the resolution was already the result of “a deliberate act of moderation on the part of the co-sponsors,” who had avoided naming Hamas or Israel, and felt that it would be unfair to mention only one of the parties.

In the end, the resolution passed overwhelmingly, with only Israel, the US and allies such as Paraguay, Guatemala and some Pacific nations voting against it.

Even the United Kingdom, which has shown almost total agreement with the US in this crisis, chose to abstain.

The European Union was divided: France and Spain voted in favor, Hungary and Austria opposed, while Italy, the Netherlands, Romania and Poland abstained.

The resolution is non-binding, as are all General Assembly resolutions, but it reflects a sentiment that goes beyond the causes of the current war.

On Friday, the Gaza Strip, home to 2 million Palestinians, was completely cut off from Internet and telephone services, while the fuel reserves that keep hospitals and water desalination plants running are depleted.

The Jordanian-sponsored resolution was refined over the course of the week to exclude the term “ceasefire” (which Israel and the United States oppose) and replace it with “an immediate, sustainable and lasting humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities.”

On the morning before the vote, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said it was “outrageous” that the resolution didn’t name Hamas or demand the release of the 229 hostages it holds, and that she would not support it for that reason.

The United States vetoed a resolution in the Security Council because it did not include an explicit call for Israel’s right to self-defense.

It later introduced another resolution that was vetoed by Russia and China for not including a clear call for a cease-fire.

Israel’s reaction

After the vote, Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan – who on Tuesday called for the resignation of Secretary-General António Guterres for his alleged pro-Palestinian bias – issued a condemnation of the entire UN, saying it is an institution that no longer has any legitimacy or relevance.

“This is a dark day for the UN and for humanity,” said UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan, vowing that his country will use “all means” to fight Hamas.

“Today is a day that will go down in infamy. We have all witnessed that the UN no longer has an ounce of legitimacy or relevance,” he said.

Arab League reaction

The Arab League celebrated the overwhelming vote, saying it reflected “international public opinion.”

The secretary general of the pan-Arab organization, Ahmed Abulgueit, said on X (formerly Twitter) that he welcomed the decision of the General Assembly. EFE

BY Usmana Kousar