Israel Gaza: UN General Assembly demands immediate ceasefire

Voting results on a non-binding Gaza ceasefire resolution are shown on monitors at a session of the UN General Assembly in New York. Photo: 12 December 2023
Image caption,The US and Israel were among 10 nations to vote against the resolution

The UN General Assembly has overwhelmingly adopted a non-binding resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

On Tuesday, 153 member states in the 193-strong assembly voted in favour and 10 including the US and Israel against, with 23 abstentions.

Palestinian representative Riyad Mansour said it was a “historic day”.

Israel’s envoy Gilad Erdan said before the vote that a “ceasefire only serves to prolong Hamas’s reign of terror”.

Senior Hamas official Bassem Naeem told the BBC that the passing of the resolution confirmed that “the prevailing international will is in favour of stopping the aggression against the Palestinian people”.

Although the US voted against the resolution, US President Joe Biden had earlier warned that Israel was losing international support because of “indiscriminate bombing” of Palestinians.

He also expressed disagreement over plans for the future of the Gaza Strip, saying the Israeli government appeared opposed a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

A woman cries as she hugs an injured man after an Israeli air strike on Rafah, southern Gaza. Photo: 12 December 2023
Image caption,A woman cries as she hugs an injured man after an Israeli air strike on Rafah, southern Gaza, on Tuesday

Tuesday’s vote was the second attempt by the General Assembly to stop hostilities. In October, it had called for “a humanitarian truce” in a resolution adopted with 121 votes in favour, 14 against and 44 abstentions.

Although non-binding, such resolutions are seen as a powerful measure of international opinion, analysts say.

UN Secretary General António Guterres has long been pushing for a humanitarian ceasefire to prevent a “complete breakdown of public order” in Gaza.

Last Friday, the UN Security Council – the body tasked with global peace and security issues – failed to adopt a draft resolution calling for a truce in Gaza. The US – one of the council’s five veto-wielding council members – blocked the move.

Israel has been carrying out air strikes and a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip after a Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October in which Israeli officials say 1,200 were killed and another 240 taken hostage. Some of the abductees were later released during a brief truce.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says Israel has killed more than 18,200 people and injured at least 50,000, including many women and children, during its ongoing military operation.

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