General Assembly Tenth Emergency Special Session - Resumed

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13-Jun-2018 02:43:53
General Assembly adopts resolution on protecting Palestinian civilians following rejection of United States amendment to condemn Hamas rocket fire at 38th meeting.

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In an emergency meeting, the General Assembly today adopted a resolution deploring the use of excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and particularly the Gaza Strip.

By the text titled “Protection of the Palestinian civilian population” — adopted by a vote of 120 in favour to 8 against with 45 abstentions — the Assembly demanded that Israel refrain from such actions and fully abide by its legal obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention relating to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949.

It also deplored the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israeli civilian areas — and any actions that could endanger civilian lives — and called for urgent steps to ensure an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, as well as for the exercise of maximum restraint by all parties. It requested the Secretary-General to submit a report in no later than 60 days, outlining proposals on ways and means for ensuring the safety of Palestinian civilians, including on an international protection mechanism.

The resolution was adopted following the Assembly’s rejection of a United States-sponsored amendment — by a vote of 78 against to 59 in favour, with 26 abstentions — which would have condemned Hamas for repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and inciting violence along the boundary fence. It would have demanded that Hamas cease all violent activity and expressed grave concern over the destruction of the Kerem Shalom crossing by actors in Gaza.

Introducing the proposed amendment, the United States delegate said the resolution, presented by Algeria’s delegate, had failed to even mention Hamas, sacrificing honesty in favour of a narrow political agenda that exclusively blamed Israel in what had become a favourite political sport. The modest amendment rightly condemned rocket fire by Hamas, as well as its diversion of resources from civilians to military resources. “It is the least that any self-respecting international organization or nation can do for the cause of peace,” she said.

Algeria’s representative, introducing the resolution, said Israel had not only set aside its responsibilities under international law, it had purposely violated those obligations. “They have, in a premeditated way, harmed Palestinians, denying them their basic rights,” he stressed. “Vote for rights, peace and stability in all of the Middle East,” he said.

Bangladesh’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said the Security Council’s failure to take action, due to a veto cast by a permanent member, had encouraged the occupying Power to continue its aggressions. Without fear of accountability, Israeli forces had continued their brutality.

“By supporting this resolution, you are colluding with a terrorist organization and empowering Hamas,” said Israel’s representative, stressing that his country had the right to defend itself and asking Member States how they would react if 40,000 rioters attempted to flood their borders. It was Hamas that decided when to attack, when to retreat and when to send its own people straight into harm’s way and even to their death. Israel had taken many steps to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza, while Hamas had spent countless resources on terrorism. To those supporting today’s resolution, “you are the ammunition in Hamas’ gun; you are the warheads on Hamas’ missiles”, he said.

The Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine said Member States must do everything possible to uphold the collective obligation to protect civilians in all circumstances, including Palestinian civilians. “We cannot remain silent in the face of the most violent crimes and human rights violations being systematically perpetrated against our people,” he stressed. The text was balanced. It had been forged after extensive negotiations during the preceding Security Council process, as well as follow-up consultations and good-faith outreach. He rejected the “bad-faith” attempt to insert an amendment that would radically shift the focus away from the core objective of protecting civilians.

In other matters, the Assembly President took note of document A/ES-10/787, concerning Member States that were in arrears in the payment of financial contributions to the United Nations. He also recalled that, at the thirty-seventh plenary meeting of the tenth emergency special session, the General Assembly decided to follow the provisions of resolution 72/2 by which the Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, and Somalia were permitted to vote in the General Assembly until the end of its seventy-second session and to allow those Member States to vote at the emergency special session.

Also speaking today were representatives of Turkey, Bangladesh (on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference), Venezuela (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Bolivia and South Africa, as well as the European Union and Holy See.

Speaking in explanation of vote were the representatives of Switzerland, Norway, Australia, Czechia, Iran, New Zealand, Mexico, United Kingdom, Argentina, Guatemala, Canada, Iceland and Singapore.
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