Display monitors show the result of the vote in the United Nations General Assembly for a resolution calling on Israel to respect its legal and humanitarian obligations in its war with Hamas, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023, at U.N. headquarters. BEBETO MATTHEWS / AP

The U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a non-binding resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza – following the lead of the paralyzed Security Council and increasing pressure on Israel and Washington.

The body, which includes all 193 U.N. member states, voted in favor of the resolution by 153 votes – more than the roughly 140 countries that have routinely supported resolutions condemning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Ten countries, including the USA and Israel, voted against and 23 abstained.

The vote in the General Assembly came after the Security Council – which is responsible for international peace and security – repeatedly failed to make such a request.

On Friday, the United States, Israel’s most powerful ally and one of only five permanent members of the Security Council, vetoed the latest draft text calling for a ceasefire.

It took the council more than a month after the war between Israel and Hamas militants began to speak out – and it did so in a weak voice, calling for humanitarian “pauses” in the conflict in mid-November after four rejected texts.

“These tragic attempts are a despicable sign of double standards,” Egypt’s U.N. Ambassador Osama Mahmoud Abdelkhalek Mahmoud said of Washington’s efforts to provide diplomatic protection to Israel ahead of the vote in the General Assembly.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of an impending “complete collapse of public order” in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Many countries and human rights organizations condemned the Security Council’s failures last Friday, and Guterres on Sunday called the Security Council’s authority and credibility “undermined.”

“We agree that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is serious,” Washington’s UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said before Tuesday’s vote.

“It is the diplomacy that the United States is conducting on the ground that has made this week-long humanitarian pause possible,” she said, referring to the only so far pause in combat that took place last month.

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Thomas-Greenfield urged countries to support an amendment to Tuesday’s resolution that would have condemned Hamas, but it was rejected.

She also called on Israel to “avoid mass displacement of civilians in southern Gaza,” but said Israel was pursuing “legitimate military objectives.”

Ahead of the vote, Israel’s representative to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, called what he called a “hypocritical resolution.” “Not only does it fail to condemn Hamas for its crimes against humanity – it fails to mention Hamas at all,” he said.

‘Catastrophic’

More than two months after the bloody and unprecedented attack by Hamas militants on Israeli soil on October 7, Gaza continues to be hit by Israeli air and land strikes.

About 1,200 Israelis were killed in the first attack, while the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says more than 18,400 Palestinians have died in Israeli bombings since then.

Arab countries had called a new special session of the General Assembly and tried to build pressure shortly after more than a dozen Security Council ambassadors visited the Rafah border point.

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The text adopted on Tuesday largely reproduced the resolution blocked by the United States in the Council on Friday.

It expresses concern about the “catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip,” calls for “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire,” and calls for the protection of civilians, humanitarian access and the “immediate and unconditional” release of all hostages.

Before the vote, the prime ministers of Australia, Canada and New Zealand – close allies of Israel and the United States – said in a joint statement: “We are alarmed by the ever-shrinking safe space for civilians in Gaza.”

“The price of defeating Hamas cannot be the continued suffering of all Palestinian civilians,” they said.

Le Monde with AFP

Source : www.lemonde.fr

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