The majority of nations are backing a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, as global opinion turns against the prolonged Israeli assault.
An overwhelming majority of the 193-member body has cast their vote in favour of a crucial resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, currently under an indiscriminate Israeli assault.
Tuesday’s vote witnessed 153 countries voting in favour, while 23 abstained, and a notable 10, including Israel and the United States, voted against. Though non-binding, this vote acts as a barometer of international sentiment on the issue.
This vote is set against a backdrop of intensifying global pressure on Israel to halt its ongoing offensive in Gaza, which has killed over 18,000 Palestinians, predominantly women and children. The war on the Strip has displaced over 80 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents.
The dire situation in Gaza, exacerbated by relentless Israeli air strikes and a stringent siege, has led UN officials to describe the conditions as “hell on earth”. The blockade has critically impeded access to essential services like food, water, fuel, and electricity.
The UNGA’s decision follows a failed attempt at a similar resolution in the UN Security Council (UNSC) last Friday, which the US single-handedly vetoed.
Unlike UNGA resolutions, UNSC resolutions carry the weight of being legally binding.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter following the UNSC’s failure to pass the resolution, a measure last used in 1971. This article empowers him to alert the global community to significant threats to international peace.
However, the non-binding UNGA resolution faced opposition from the US, which, along with Austria, sought to amend the resolution to condemn Hamas’s deadly attack on October 7.
Israel’s representative, Gilad Erdan, vehemently opposed the ceasefire calls, denouncing the UN as a “moral stain” on humanity.
In a provocative speech before the vote, he said, “Why don’t you hold the rapists and child murderers accountable? The time has come to put the blame where it belongs: on the shoulders of the Hamas monsters.”
In a brief statement posted on social media, Hussein al-Sheikh, Secretary-General of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s executive committee, has said Israel is isolated internationally over its war on Gaza.
“The UN resolution in the General Assembly calling for stopping the aggression against the Palestinian people demonstrates Israel’s isolation internationally, and requires international will to implement this resolution immediately,” he said in a post on X.
The Biden administration in the US has staunchly supported Israel’s military campaign, asserting Israel’s right to counter Hamas. However, as Israeli forces demolish entire neighbourhoods, including schools and hospitals, the US finds itself increasingly isolated in its stance.
This stance brings to light the perceived double standard of the US, particularly in light of its strong condemnation of similar Russian actions in Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden, in recent remarks, intensified his critique of Israel, pointing to the loss of international support due to “indiscriminate bombing” in Gaza.