from UN reports and media coverage

The UN General Assembly met in December in Emergency Special Session on the decades-long Israel-Palestine conflict and as the ongoing crisis in Gaza shows no signs of abating.

Member States adopted a resolution, demanding an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire”, the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as “ensuring humanitarian access”.

It passed with a large majority of 153 in favor and 10 against, with 23 abstentions

The resolution also reiterated the General Assembly’s demand that all parties comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, “notably with regard to the protection of civilians.”

Prior to the resolution, two amendments making specific reference to extremist group Hamas were voted down by members.

At the start of the session, Assembly President Dennis Francis underscored the urgency of ending the suffering of innocent civilians in Gaza. “We have one singular priority – only one – to save lives,” he stressed.

After the US vetoed a similar resolution at the Security Council (where a ‘no’ vote from any permanent member — the US, UK, France, Russia and China — can scuttle any motion), the more powerful body adopted a watered down resolution, calling for “urgent steps” to allow expanded aid into the Gaza strip, which is facing a spiraling humanitarian crisis from weeks of Israeli bombardment. But lacking unanimous support for an immediate pause to the fighting, the resolution stopped short of calling for a cease-fire.

The final vote on the weaker resolution, which was drafted by the United Arab Emirates, was 13-0. The US and Russia both abstained from the vote; the US still defending Israel, and the Russians probably indicating that they would prefer a call for a cease fire. The links on the UN website to the Security Council resolution were not working when C-L went to press.

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