The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to demand an immediate ceasefire in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza, in a rare move that defied opposition from the United States and Israel. The resolution passed with 154 votes in favor, 7 against and 3 abstentions.
Key Details of the Resolution
The resolution specifically called for an “immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire” to halt the worst outbreak of violence between Israel and Hamas since their 2014 war. It stressed the “immediate cessation of all acts leading to loss of civilian life and destruction”.
Some key points about the resolution:
- It is not legally binding but has symbolic significance as an expression of the international community’s priorities
- Drafted by the United Arab Emirates and co-sponsored by over 50 countries
- Calls for protection of civilians and access for humanitarian aid in Gaza
- Makes no reference to Hamas’ rocket attacks against Israel
- US and Israel unsuccessfully proposed amendments condemning Hamas aggression
|Number of Countries
Fierce Opposition from US and Israel
The United States and Israel fiercely opposed the resolution and were the only two countries to vote against it alongside just five other nations – Canada, Australia, Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Nauru.
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield expressed regret over the vote, arguing it lacked balance by not mentioning Hamas rocket attacks which triggered the crisis. Israel’s UN envoy Gilad Erdan responded sharply, accusing the UN of “rewarding terrorists”.
Both countries also rejected amendments introduced by Austria, Canada and Mexico that would have condemned Hamas’ indiscriminate rocket fire against Israel.
Widespread Calls for De-escalation
The UN vote reflected growing global frustration over the rising death toll and devastation in Gaza, which has suffered extensive damage to infrastructure and over 15,000 displaced people. It amplified calls by many world leaders like UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Russian President Vladimir Putin for an immediate ceasefire and diplomacy before the crisis deteriorates further.
The vote showcased widespread international opinion favoring urgent steps to ease civilian suffering in Gaza. It increases pressure on both sides to halt hostilities, despite vows by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to continue the offensive until there is “complete quiet”.
India Breaks Ranks, Supports Ceasefire
In a notable split from usual voting patterns, India was among the 154 nations backing the UN resolution on a Gaza ceasefire, departing from close ally Israel as well as the US. As the world’s largest democracy with historical ties to the Palestinian cause, India’s vote carried symbolic weight.
Indian envoy R. Ravindra emphasized the need to address Gaza’s dire humanitarian situation immediately, while avoiding lopsided condemnation of Israel. The decision ruffled some feathers in Israel but earned praise from Arab diplomats as a sign of India’s growing political independence.
Observers say it illustrates India’s preference for balancing complex middle east politics without fully abandoning Palestinian solidarity. It also spotlights greater policy coordination between India and Gulf Arab states.
Hamas Claims “Historic Victory”
The Islamist group Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007 and triggered the latest conflict, described the UN vote as a “historic victory” and moral boost for Palestinians. A Hamas spokesman stated it “paves the way for isolating the Israeli occupation” while bolstering the stature of Hamas as defenders of Palestinian rights.
Analysts say the UN session has strengthened Hamas’ credibility in the eyes of many Gazans as well as its allies Qatar and Turkey. It could embolden Hamas’ confrontational stance towards Israel. At the same time, Hamas’ depleted weapon arsenal and Gaza’s destruction may deter another war in the near future.
Calls for Broader Peace Push
While the UN resolution focuses on an immediate ceasefire, many diplomats and peace advocates stressed the need for renewed political efforts to solve underlying grievances fueling Israeli-Palestinian tensions around occupied land and statehood.
Jordan’s Ambassador Mahmoud Daifallah Hmoud said the international community must “deal with the core issues to achieve just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East”. Norway’s envoy Mona Juul also called for “political efforts to enable meaningful talks between the parties.”
President Abbas of the Palestinian National Authority urged world powers to pursue a new peace initiative before violence spirals out of control again. But with deep distrust on both sides, there appears little prospect of returning to substantive negotiations anytime soon.
The overwhelming UN General Assembly vote in favor of an immediate Gaza ceasefire and humanitarian access reflects rising global alarm over the escalating Israel-Hamas crisis. It sharpens scrutiny on the US and Israel’s defiant stance favoring continued military action over diplomacy.
But it remains uncertain whether the non-binding resolution will prod the warring parties to stand down. Israel seems determined to keep bombarding Gaza as Hamas refuses to stop rocket attacks. Still, the lopsided UN vote indicates Netanyahu faces isolation and criticism if civilian casualties grow unchecked. It also hands moral leverage to Hamas even as Gaza lies in ruins.
Looking ahead, the UN session spotlights not just a bloody chapter of Middle East conflicts but also the remoteness of political solutions. While calls for peace talks are swirling, political will is lacking and violence still rages – highlighting the need for more creative diplomacy to douse the endless sparks of war between Israel and Palestinians.
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