GENERAL ASSEMBLY DEMANDS FULL RESPECT FOR SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 1860 CALLING FOR IMMEDIATE GAZA CEASEFIRE, AS EMERGENCY SESSION CONCLUDES
GENERAL ASSEMBLY DEMANDS FULL RESPECT FOR SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 1860 CALLING FOR IMMEDIATE GAZA CEASEFIRE, AS EMERGENCY SESSION CONCLUDES
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
General Assembly Plenary
Tenth Emergency Special Session
34th & 35th Meetings (AM & PM)
GENERAL ASSEMBLY DEMANDS FULL RESPECT FOR SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 1860
CALLING FOR IMMEDIATE GAZA CEASEFIRE, AS EMERGENCY SESSION CONCLUDES
Resolution Adopted by Vote of 143-3-9, After Two-Day Debate;
Expresses Grave Concern about Developments on Ground since Council Text’s Adoption
The General Assembly, gravely concerned about the intensified military operations in the Gaza Strip and heavy civilian casualties since last week’s adoption of resolution 1860 by the Security Council, this evening demanded full respect for that text, including its urgent call for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces and unimpeded provision of humanitarian assistance.
Following a two-day emergency special session convened to address the three-week old crisis, the Assembly adopted its own resolution on the issue by a vote of 143 in favour to 3 against (United States, Israel, Nauru), with 9 abstentions (Australia, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, Syria, Venezuela). (See Annex II)
The Assembly called on all parties to exert all efforts to ensure, in cooperation with the Council, full and urgent compliance with resolution 1860. It also expressed support for the Secretary-General’s mission, among other international and regional efforts under way, and called on States to extend support to measures aimed at alleviating the humanitarian and economic situation. Finally, the Assembly held out the possibility of resuming its special session if requested by Member States.
The text adopted this evening, put forward by Egypt, was the result of a lengthy debate over both content and voting procedure, as it displaced a draft put forward yesterday by General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann. The Assembly President withdrew his sponsorship of that draft, after a vote was requested. Ecuador then assumed sponsorship of the text and orally amended it, although it was never brought to a vote. Instead, the Assembly, in a procedural vote, decided it would first take action on the Egyptian text.
Speaking after the vote on resolution A/ES-10/L.21/Rev.1, the Observer of Palestine said the Assembly had tonight sent a very strong message to Israel to end its aggression. He thanked the General Assembly and its President for achieving a nearly unanimous vote calling for an immediate ceasefire, to be followed shortly by Israel’s immediate withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. He thanked all delegations for applying pressure on Israel, isolating that country and compelling it to comply with resolution 1860. If Israel did not comply, his delegation would “go knocking on the door of the Security Council with a Chapter VII draft resolution”. He expected the Assembly to be with the Palestinian people until the gunfire stopped, the siege was lifted and the borders were opened.
Israel’s representative, explaining her vote against the text, said many speakers in today’s “open and endless” session had excelled in rhetoric, but less so in reality. Israel had engaged in the current situation not by choice, but because it had been forced to do so. Hamas had fired numerous rockets and 1 million innocent Israeli civilians had been endangered. The resolution was deeply flawed, in that it did not mention Hamas and its use of civilian homes, schools and mosques to hide weapons and launch terrorist attacks. Nor did it mention Hamas’ enormous efforts to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip. Further, Article 12, section 1 of the United Nations Charter prohibited the Assembly from making recommendations on issues while the Council was still seized of those matters.
Similarly, the United States representative said his delegation voted against the text as the situation in Gaza and southern Israel was a serious matter best dealt with through efforts on the ground. The basic elements for a durable ceasefire had been laid. Moreover, the Memorandum of Understanding on preventing the supply of arms to terrorist groups was signed today between the United States and Israel. A separate General Assembly resolution was neither necessary, nor useful.
Abstaining from the vote, the representative of Canada explained that his delegation supported the text’s call for compliance with resolution 1860 to achieve an immediate ceasefire, but regretted that it failed to recognize that rocket attacks by Hamas had led to the crisis. Those must be stopped.
Weighing in at the end, Egypt’s representative said he believed that the Assembly President had, to some degree, prodded the Security Council to action last week by scheduling the resumed emergency session on the very day the Council was set to meet. He thanked all those that had voted in favour of the text, as well as those that had abstained in the vote. “We’re all in the same boat,” he said, adding that the resolution did not represent a victory for some over others, but it was a victory for all.
In closing the special session, President D’Escoto said he would be less than frank if he did not say he was very disappointed. The Assembly was in far worse shape than he had thought. “We will never make it if we don’t act in a more decisive and affirmative manner.”
Also speaking today were the representatives of Brunei, Jamaica, Switzerland, Venezuela, Libya, Jordan, Sri Lanka, Russian Federation, Nicaragua, Iceland, Kuwait, Oman, Tunisia, China, Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia, Liechtenstein, Pakistan, Australia, Cape Verde, Chile, Maldives, Norway, Rwanda (on behalf of the African Group), United Kingdom, Japan, Benin, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Republic of Korea, Panama, Grenada (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Comoros, Finland, Italy, Portugal, Afghanistan, Spain, Slovenia, Ireland, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Cyprus, United Republic of Tanzania, New Zealand, Sweden, Belgium, Malta, Lebanon, France, Czech Republic (on behalf of the European Union), Costa Rica, Djibouti, Gambia, Cuba, Iran, Federated States of Micronesia, Canada, Syria, Indonesia and Bolivia.
The Permanent Observer of the Holy See also spoke.
The General Assembly will reconvene at a date to be announced.
The General Assembly met today to continue its emergency special session.
LATIF BIN TUAH(Brunei Darussalam) said his country was deeply concerned at the deteriorating situation in and around Gaza, as the deaths of hundreds of innocent Palestinians highlighted the gravity of the situation. Condemning Israel’s excessive use of force, he called on all sides to exercise restraint. Recent developments had undermined gains made to bring about a just, peaceful and permanent solution to the conflict. Indeed, the international community was called on, once again, to act decisively. Security Council resolution 1860 (2009) sent a clear message for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, and it was important that it be observed.
He urged not losing sight of the root cause of the conflict, noting, in that context, the Palestinian struggle to regain their homeland. A two-State solution was the only viable option in the conflict, and he hoped all parties could work towards that goal. He recognized the untiring commitment of States that had come forth to seek a negotiated solution. Reiterating Brunei Darussalam’s long-standing commitment to the rule of international law under United Nations auspices, he said the special session offered an opportunity to exchange views on the grave situation in Gaza, which would help efforts to achieve a just and lasting peace.
RAYMOND O. WOLFE ( Jamaica) said he was extremely concerned at the escalation of the conflict in Gaza. While recognizing Israel’s right to protect its citizens, his Government was “horrified” at the disproportionate and excessive use of force, and disregard for the safety of innocent civilians. He was no less concerned at indiscriminate rocket fire by Palestinian militants into Israeli territory. The cycle of violence thwarted initiatives aimed at brokering lasting regional peace. The tragedy on the ground had killed over 1,000 Palestinians, more than half of them civilians and, in that context, he reiterated Jamaica’s support for Security Council resolution 1860 (2009). Both sides must fully implement the ceasefire.
He welcomed ongoing Egyptian efforts aimed at achieving that ceasefire, as well as mediation efforts by Egypt and the League of Arab States to realize intra-Palestinian reconciliation. As history had shown, there could be no military solution to the conflict, and he urged all parties to pursue diplomatic efforts to ensure a peaceful resolution to the conflict. He called for resumed negotiations aimed at finding a permanent solution that would guarantee Israel’s security and the Palestinians’ right to statehood, in line with Security Council resolutions, particularly resolution 242 (1967).
PETER MAURER ( Switzerland) said only an immediate cessation of hostilities by all parties to the Gaza conflict could end that tragedy, and he welcomed both the resolution adopted by the Security Council and international efforts to achieve a ceasefire. An immediate ceasefire and provision of humanitarian aid were only the first essential steps; they must be followed by a political process and dialogue. He emphasized three aspects to the conflict that warranted immediate attention. First, civilians, including children, bore the brunt of the fighting. Disrupted water supplies demanded work to prevent the situation from further deteriorating. All parties must adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure unimpeded humanitarian access.
Second, he said thousands of people had been displaced inside the Gaza Strip, and they had the right to seek safety in other parts of the territory or to leave. Third, all parties must abide strictly by their obligations to respect the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution to ensure the greatest possible protection of civilians and civilian objects. There had been several allegations of international law violations, and he reiterated the call for an impartial inquiry into all such allegations. Switzerland remained convinced that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could not be resolved by military means; only negotiations on the creation of a viable Palestinian State, living alongside Israel within secure borders, would bring a lasting solution.
JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO ( Venezuela) said his country had decided to break diplomatic relations with Israel. Israel had systematically ignored United Nations appeals and violated resolutions. Thousands in Gaza were dead and wounded. Israel had violated article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, carrying out collective punishment of Palestinians in the Occupied Territory. Doctors in Gaza had detected uranium in victims and reported that Israel had used white phosphorous bombs in densely populated areas, violating international humanitarian legislation. Israel’s actions sought to subjugate Palestinians by means of their extermination, which was “genocide”, he said.
Furthermore, he said Security Council resolution 1860 (2009) called for an immediate ceasefire, and the guaranteed distribution of humanitarian aid, a text the Israeli Prime Minister rejected as “unimplementable”. It was not possible to speak of legitimate defence when Israel carried out violence against a people and territory subject to occupation. The military siege imposed on Palestinians via air, sea and land was reminiscent of apartheid.
Universally recognized human rights principles must continue to be in effect, even in cases of armed conflict, he said, adding that the General Assembly had an historic opportunity to adopt a resolution and make declarations about Israel’s disregard for resolution 1860. The draft resolution formed the broad foundations for agreement, and he urged adding the following points: a demand for Israel to immediately comply with resolution 1860 and withdraw its military from Gaza; a call for the international community to take part in rebuilding Gaza; a demand for Israel to lift the economic and military blockade and immediately reopen the border crossings; a call for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to implement an aid programme for children; and support for the 9 January Human Rights Council resolution. The Assembly must demand that Israel make good on its obligations under international law.
GIADALLA A. ETTALHI (Libya), aligning himself with the statements of the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of Islamic Conference, and the Arab Group, said the facts had been distorted and falsified concerning the situation in Gaza. The root causes of the problem were the Israeli occupation of the past four decades and various Israeli practices, including the destruction of homes, building of settlements and their methodical aggression. All of that had been done to compel the Palestinians to leave Palestine. Those practices were the root cause of what was happening now in Gaza.
The immediate cause of the situation was the blockade of Gaza that began in mid-2007, he said. In June 2008, a truce was achieved, and the Palestinians complied with the truce, but the Israelis did not. That created a deteriorating economic and living situation, including a lack of drinking water and sewage water flowing through the streets, as well as a lack of food and medical care. The Palestinian people were also deprived of their livelihood. The Palestinians had the right to defend themselves with whatever was available to them.
The recent Israeli aggression had continued, despite the adoption of Council resolution 1860 (2009), he said. They challenged the international community by escalating their criminal aggression. He supported the resolution of the Human Rights Council to investigate the crimes that occurred in the area.
MOHAMMED F. AL-ALLAF ( Jordan), aligning himself with statements made on behalf of the Arab States, Organization of Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement, denounced the Israeli aggression that had caused thousands of civilian victims. He called on the international community to compel Israel to implement resolution 1860 (2009), end its policy of collective punishment, open the crossings and address the catastrophic suffering caused by its military operations, which violated the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and all relevant human rights instruments.
Resolution 1860 expressed an international consensus calling for an immediate ceasefire; total withdrawal from Gaza; provision of humanitarian assistance; and renewed efforts to achieve peace based on a two‑State solution, he said. That consensus had a legal and political character that Israel should respect. Jordan was totally committed to helping Palestinians create an independent State on Palestinian soil. The Jordanian King had conducted meetings with other leaders to guarantee an immediate cessation of hostilities, and he fully supported ongoing efforts to achieve an immediate end to Palestinian suffering. The deterioration of the humanitarian situation had reached unprecedented levels. Killing had become a recurrent daily scene, while public services, houses of worship and United Nations buildings had been destroyed.
Effective international efforts must be undertaken to rebuild the Gaza Strip, and Jordan was committed to that end, he said. Jordan was willing to partner with United Nations institutions working to deal with the humanitarian catastrophe, and provide international assistance through the Hashemite charity helping Palestinians in Gaza. Peace and stability in the Middle East would not be achieved through military operations; only through dialogue. He urged a return to negotiations to resolve the dispute, based on United Nations resolutions, the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative. Jordan was ready to facilitate the adoption of today’s draft resolution.
H.M.G.S. PALIHAKKARA ( Sri Lanka), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people and said Sri Lanka knew very well the human and material costs of violence unleashed by terrorism. Sri Lanka had called on all parties to end military action and violence immediately and ensure a climate conducive for finding a way towards the two-State solution. Sri Lanka had been a consistent advocate of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to establish an independent Palestine State and coexist in peace with Israel and other neighbours.
Sri Lanka joined others in calling on all parties concerned to abide by the calls for a cessation of violence, including abiding by Council resolution 1860 (2009), he said. The unity of the Palestinian people was of utmost importance to achieving a lasting solution to the question of Palestine. Sri Lanka wanted to see unity among Palestinians and Israelis, on the basis of the States of Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace with secure borders.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said the bloodshed had to be stopped immediately to help the civilian population and an immediate, durable ceasefire had to be observed. The rocket attacks into Israel should be ended, which should lead to a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from the area. That was all part of resolution 1860 (2009) and it should be implemented by Israel and Hamas.
He supported the work of the Quartet and the Secretary-General, who was in the region, the mediation role of Egypt, and intra-Palestinian dialogue, which was an important means to achieving peace. He hoped the consultations in Cairo would be successful in developing a solution agreeable to both parties. The main challenge was to find a way to end the violence. His country would continue to use all its contacts to work towards peace.
MARÍA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO ( Nicaragua) said that, given the situation in the Security Council, it was time for the General Assembly, the United Nations’ most democratic body, to call for the halt of the “genocidal aggression” taking place in the Gaza Strip. Palestinians were victims of “genocidal” attacks by land, sea and air, and the unjust attacks continued the unsustainable situation of a permanently victimized people. The humanitarian tragedy had deepened, with more than 1,000 dead and 5,000 wounded.
The Security Council had adopted resolution 1860 (2009), but had not taken measures on the ground that would help end the killing. Yet, the world had seen how Israel attacked the United Nations headquarters in Gaza; how prohibited weapons, such as white phosphorous, had been used against civilians; and how international organizations had not been allowed to reach victims. As with previous resolutions, there as a disconnect between the resolution adopted and the situation on the ground. Israel had trampled on the United Nations Charter, international humanitarian law, and its ethical responsibilities. It should meet its Charter obligations, and stop all breaches of peace. How could such acts be justified with an argument of self-defence? When would the Gaza closures be lifted?
The fact that the Security Council was not meeting its responsibilities did not free the United Nations of its Charter responsibility of maintaining international peace and security, she said. There were protests around the world condemning the invasion of Gaza, and the Assembly could not just do nothing. It was duty-bound to speak up against the situation, and help bring about an immediate ceasefire. Nicaragua supported today’s resolution, though it would have wanted a stronger document that included condemnation of Israel’s practices, and calls for preventing border hostilities, creating monitoring mechanisms and respecting international law, including international humanitarian law. Nicaragua supported all efforts aimed at ending the “genocide” in Gaza, and called on the Security Council to step up efforts to restore stability in the region.
EMIL BREKI HREGGVIDSSON ( Iceland) said the calls to stop the immediate crisis had to be placed in the context of efforts towards a sustainable peace. That would mean recommencing the peace process, intra-Palestinian reconciliation, and the ending of the blockade on Gaza and the closure regime in the West Bank. The peace process needed to resume, with the participation of the United Nations and the international community. A new approach was needed.
He said the firing of rockets from Gaza to terrorize Israeli civilians had to stop and Hamas bore a heavy responsibility for drawing civilians into the conflict zone. The use of civilian facilities as a cover for militant operations was a breach of international law, he said. On the other hand, targeting civilian homes, schools, hospitals and mosques was unacceptable and violated international humanitarian law. He called on Israel to permanently remove restrictions on medical teams and humanitarian aid. He strongly condemned Israel’s attack Thursday on United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) headquarters in Gaza.
IBRAHIM J. M. AL-NAJEM (Kuwait), supporting the Non-Aligned Movement, Organization of Islamic Conference and Arab States, recounted that a recent series of air raids and use of phosphorous bombs had caused more than 1,000 martyrs. There was “genocide” occurring in Gaza, and Israel’s actions had constituted war crimes against a defenceless people, which undermined its claims of self-defence and that it was the only democratic country in the region. He was concerned at the ongoing aggression, which defied international demands to ensure an immediate ceasefire. The military aggression against civilians violated international law and only fuelled the cycle of violence.
He said Israel must implement resolution 1860 (2009), and the Fourth Geneva Convention. Palestinians being killed by Israel had suffered under a blockade for years, and every minute there were new victims, with Israel’s targeting of schools and bombing of UNRWA facilities. An independent inquiry into such aggression was needed. He called for donors to support institutions working in the occupied Palestinian territories. Security could not be ensured through “tyrannical” force and the targeting of civilians; it could only result from a credible political process. Arab countries had shown solidarity with Palestinians, and he urged an immediate cessation of hostilities and ceasefire. Kuwait would host an Arab summit and such issues would be at the top of its agenda. He supported the draft resolution circulated by the General Assembly President.
MOHAMMED AQEEL BA-OMAR (Oman) aligning with the Arab Group, Organization of the Islamic Conference and Non-Aligned Movement, said the Assembly had met to discuss a very important matter: the massacres committed against the civilians in Gaza. The Israeli aggressions were war crimes and acts of genocide and he called on the international community to move to stop the massacres and make Israel accept a ceasefire and let humanitarian relief reach Gaza.
The international community needed to speak in one voice, he said. The Israeli attacks violated provisions of the Geneva Convention. Oman called on the Council to shoulder its full responsibility. What had happened in Palestine required an urgent action by the Council to enforce a ceasefire and its failure would undermine its credibility. The Council had to act and certain States should not use the veto. The Council should take punitive measures against Israel, which felt it was above the law. The International Criminal Tribunal should punish the perpetrators and Oman asked for immediate action by the Organization, including the Council.
ALEJANDRO D. WOLFF ( United States) said his delegation was deeply concerned at the situation in Gaza and southern Israel, a very serious matter that was best dealt with through efforts on the ground, rather than through unrealistic proposals that did nothing to positively impact the situation. The General Assembly session should not undermine ongoing diplomatic activity. That was especially so, as the Security Council was addressing the matter. The session also should not be allowed to devolve into “vituperative criticism”, and he urged caution that deliberations not be seized on by Hamas or others, during their unlawful actions to spread violence.
The United Nations had spoken through resolution 1860 (2009), he said, and the Secretary-General was in the region to help resolve the situation. That was where efforts should be focused: on the real work of diplomacy. The people of Gaza watched as lawlessness increased because of Hamas actions, and Israelis lived under the threat of rocket attacks. The goal must be the stabilization and normalization for the people of Gaza. A ceasefire must also ensure the safety of Israelis and Palestinians alike. Resolution 1850 (2008) described the principles to chart a better future, understanding that such a future could only be based on a commitment away from the incitement of violence and terror. That was the end to which all efforts should be directed.
On a procedural note, he said the General Assembly President had circulated a draft. Such presidential drafts were typically presented as consensus documents, and he asked for information on plans for scheduling consultations to achieve that consensus.
HABIB MANSOUR ( Tunisia) said the brutal acts committed by Israel in Gaza took place in front of the international community, which had not been able to enforce a ceasefire. Tunisia had expressed its deep concern over the living and health conditions in Gaza, which had turned into a humanitarian catastrophe. Medical workers and journalists had been targeted by Israel and all of that violated the provisions of the Geneva Convention.
Tunisia had acted in solidarity with the Palestinian people and stood beside the Palestinian people in order to help them reduce their suffering. He appealed to the international community and all organizations, to continue their help. The situation required a collective action to put an immediate end to the aggression and provide medical assistance to the victims, he said.
Tunisia supported the resolution of the Human Rights Council, which aimed to provide humanitarian relief to the Palestinian people. He reaffirmed that a solution could only be achieved through dialogue and not violent acts that hurt civilians, who had lived under deprivation for many years.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said Israeli military actions had left more than 1,100 Gazans dead and more than 5,000 wounded. The conflict’s escalation had resulted in the massive destruction of infrastructure and a shortage of supplies. The situation was critical. He was deeply concerned at deteriorating humanitarian conditions and appalled at attacks on a United Nations school and relief convoys. He urged Israel to immediately stop its military actions, open all Gaza crossings, and ensure unimpeded humanitarian access to the area. Palestinian parties should stop launching rockets. No violations of international law, including human rights law, would be tolerated.
Resolution 1860 (2009) called for an immediate, durable and respected ceasefire, and he regretted that more than a week had gone by since its adoption and it remained unimplemented. He supported efforts by Egypt and the Secretary‑General. The international community should help ease the situation, and he supported the idea for a humanitarian assessment of Gaza. In that context, he said China had provided $1 million in emergency humanitarian assistance to Gaza.
Israel’s excessive use of force was unacceptable, he continued, stressing that there was no military solution to the conflict. He urged support for the principle of land-for-peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Road Map to help solve the situation through diplomatic negotiations. China was ready to bring parties back to negotiations. Supporting a General Assembly resolution on the current situation, he hoped all parties concerned could reach consensus on it.
CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico ) said the tragic events and violence occurring in the Middle East had led to many deaths and much destruction, especially among the civilian population. The United Nations had worked through the Council, which had assumed its full responsibility by adopting resolution 1860 (2009). Numerous other initiatives had been undertaken to reach a solution to the crisis.
The convening of a special Assembly session initially seemed surprising, but Mexico now saw the session as a new opportunity for all countries to give their official positions. Mexico believed that resolution 1860 set forth the conditions for a lasting ceasefire and the delivery of goods and offered hope for renewed dialogue. The participation of all parties was necessary to bring an end to the violence, he said.
Mexico believed that the Assembly should support the actions undertaken by the Council within the framework of resolution 1860 and the efforts of the Secretary‑General. Mexico hoped that the Assembly would produce a resolution worthy of consensus by all parties.
MARÍA FERNANDAESPINOSA( Ecuador), noting that her country had participated in the creation of the United Nations, said its constitution provided for peaceful dispute settlement. Despite its signing of the Geneva Convention, Israel had violated fundamental principles of international public law and international humanitarian law. Israel’s military action in the occupied Palestinian territories, particularly the Gaza Strip, had resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries. Ecuador expressed solidarity with the innocent victims of Israeli aggression, and reiterated its deep concern at the situation, particularly at the border crossings, which blocked the delivery of food, medicine and other supplies.
She said Ecuador joined the Non-Aligned Movement in urging implementation of resolution 1860 (2009), and called for protecting Palestinians and undertaking urgent actions to end Israeli actions on Palestinian soil. She called on all United Nations organs to enforce, within their jurisdictions, the respect for human life. She supported efforts to bring about a ceasefire in Gaza, and called for an investigation into events, and prosecution of those responsible for crimes against humanity in Gaza. Any solution must allow for comprehensive peace in the Middle East and a commitment to non-aggression. The General Assembly, the Security Council and other bodies should bring mechanisms to bear on the situation for achieving compliance with past resolutions. Implementation of resolution 1860 would be a key step in helping to end the horrific humanitarian drama in Gaza.
HUGO SILES ALVARADO ( Bolivia) said the Palestinian people were suffering a new Holocaust and Bolivia asked for compliance with resolution 1860 (2009), which called for an immediate ceasefire and the opening of the border crossings. That would allow the delivery of essential medical supplies and food into the zone.
Instead of compliance, there were new forms of aggression by the Israelis and Bolivia could not sit by and do nothing as one country that was a Member of the United Nations was not complying with the laws. On 14 January, Bolivia broke diplomatic relations with Israel. If not, it would be acting as an accomplice to its deeds. More severe measures had to be taken and the Council had to adopt a resolution that sent the responsible Israeli authorities to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. And measures should be taken to insure that impunity was not an option, he said.
Bolivia joined the statement made by Cuba on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement. The international community could not limit its actions to speeches and analysis and needed to take measures that forced Israel to comply with the ceasefire. He hoped the Assembly would make a decision today on a resolution to help the people of Palestine.
STEFAN BARRIGA ( Liechtenstein) said he welcomed the Assembly’s debate, which was consistent with its mandate under the Charter and the Assembly’s practice under the “Uniting for Peace” resolution. But, he regretted that clarity regarding the session’s legal basis was not provided at its inception. The situation in Gaza required the Assembly’s full attention. Much of the massive loss of civilian life was due to a disrespect of the provisions of the Geneva Convention and the principle of proportionality.
Liechtenstein fully supported resolution 1860 (2009) and said that legally binding decision had to be implemented immediately and fully by the parties to the conflict. A durable ceasefire was a first step and a precondition for a sustainable political situation, he said. All military activities had to be stopped; there had to be an immediate end to rocket attacks by Hamas, as well as military actions by Israel. The Assembly session served a meaningful purpose if it led to a resolution that supported the implementation of resolution 1860 and increased the political pressure. The Assembly needed to stand united and send a signal that the violence in Gaza was unacceptable and must end immediately.
FARUKH AMIL ( Pakistan) supported convening the emergency session in view of the calamitous situation in Gaza. The meeting reaffirmed the United Nations’ obligation to resolve the Palestine issue. Israel had disregarded calls for a cessation of hostilities, and had violated both human rights law and international humanitarian law, particularly its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Moreover, the Security Council had failed to fulfil its primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security. It had dragged its feet as the occupying Power had escalated its “killing spree”. Under immense international pressure, it had adopted resolution 1860 (2009), and though not an entirely fair decision, it had instilled hope for a ceasefire. Following that, violence was expected to stop but the Council had “failed miserably”, and the resolution had been reduced to a farce, he said, adding: “The Council remains seized of situation, whatever that means.” Could the world afford to wait another day? The answer was no.
He said Pakistan expressed complete solidarity with the Palestinians and strongly condemned the latest aggression in Gaza. His Government supported the United Nations demand to end that aggression and to address its causes in a just manner. Gazans were mostly Palestinians driven by Israel from their homes. He had called for ending rocket fire by a segment of that population; however, the disproportionate response was unjust. The facts reported from Gaza were “earthshaking”. Rescue and relief workers were being attacked, and the world was aghast at the images of the dead. The use of white phosphorous added another cruel layer to the ongoing tragedy, while attacks on the UNRWA facility, during the Secretary‑General’s visit to the region, were a bitter irony he trusted was not lost on the international community.
If the Security Council was not being allowed to act, the Assembly must assume its own responsibility, and distinguish between the aggressor and the aggrieved, he said. It should compel Israel to stop its aggression. It could recommend the creation of a mechanism to ensure the protection of civilians. It should demand full compliance with international human rights. Along with resolution 1860, the Assembly could endorse support for the resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council and call for their implementation. At stake was the shared goal of a just lasting peace in the Middle East. Pakistan supported the achievement of Palestinians’ right to self-determination and sovereignty on basis of 1967 borders.
CLARE GATEHOUSE ( Australia) said Australia was deeply disturbed by the violence in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel and strongly supported the call in Council resolution 1860 (2009) for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire. She supported the resolution’s recognition of the need to address arms smuggling and open border crossings and its call for the unimpeded provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance throughout the Gaza Strip.
She welcomed the Egyptian‑French ceasefire proposal and the important role played by Egypt and others, including Secretary‑General Ban Ki-moon. A solution had to be found to end Hamas’ rocket attacks against Israel, which had led to the current crisis, and it must also end arms smuggling into Gaza. The crisis had demonstrated the vital need for a two‑State solution to the Israel‑Palestine conflict.
Australia was deeply concerned that the conflict had profoundly affected civilians. She condemned any action by Hamas to deliberately endanger civilian lives and called on Israel to do all it could to ensure the safety of United Nations and humanitarian workers. She said Australia had committed $5 million in additional assistance to the people of Gaza on 1 January 2009 to provide emergency food and medical supplies and cash assistance to conflict‑affected families.
ANTONIO PEDRO MONTEIRO LIMA ( Cape Verde) said resolution 1860 (2009) had still not been implemented, and in no way helped Gazans trying to flee the situation. The international community must help allow humanitarian assistance to reach the civilian population, which was trapped without food or shelter. “We must save lives”, and preserve the future. It was vital for Gazans, and for the chance of peace, to end the cycle of violence that divided people and political entities. What was happening now had resulted from the “logic of hate” and the “logic of force”. There were political campaigns under way on the basis of hatred, and the use of violence was being used as an argument for acquiring power.
He urged working together to find a long‑term solution that would bring about peace, and he supported all mediation efforts to end the fighting, particularly by the Secretary‑General. He hoped such initiatives would be successful. The current attacks against Gazans were not in line with the vision Cape Verde had for the region, nor in the interests of those living in the area. The new war was fuelling military ambitions -- however, a military solution always led to failure, and he continued to support the peaceful settlement of the Middle East conflict. He urged the creation of a Palestinian State living alongside Israel, as provided for in the Road Map, the Annapolis statement and United Nations resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).
EDUARDO GÁLVEZ ( Chile) said the situation in Gaza had worsened and he deplored the bombing of the United Nations compound there, especially since the Secretary‑General was in the region. Chile also deplored the Israeli aggression, as well as the launching of rockets towards Israel. It advocated respect and support for the Charter, human rights, international law and resolution 1860 (2009).
The resolution called for an immediate ceasefire and it was also a viable tool for the resumption of the peace process. Chile backed the provision of the Human Rights Council’s resolution that urged the sending of a commission to the area to investigate the violation of human rights on the ground. Israel should allow immediate access to Gaza for humanitarian efforts and, further, the parties should launch a negotiating process that would lead to peace, he said.
AHMED KHALEEL ( Maldives) strongly condemned the disproportionate and excessive military force unleashed by the Israelis against the civilian population in Gaza that had caused much death and destruction. The Maldives called on Israel to honour its international obligations as an occupying Power and refrain from violating the human rights of the Palestinian people. The Maldives also called on the international community to take urgent measures to end the aggression and address the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza.
There was no alternative to dialogue, he said. A just and comprehensive resolution could not be achieved by war and aggression, but through dialogue and negotiations based on the relevant Council resolutions. He called on the two parties to immediately honour and implement resolution 1860 (2009), cease hostilities and return to the negotiating table.
MONA JUUL ( Norway) said the Norwegian Foreign Minister had added his voice to those in the Security Council last week demanding an immediate ceasefire. Now Norway demanded that resolution 1860 (2009) be fully implemented. Hamas rocket launching must stop; Israel’s shelling of Gaza must stop, and it must withdraw its troops. In that context, she placed hope in the Egyptian initiative for a ceasefire.
As Chair of the Security Council Ad hoc Liaison Committee, Norway was ready to hold an international donor conference for rebuilding Gaza. Humanitarian assistance must be funnelled through existing channels. International humanitarian law was crystal clear: civilians must be protected. She condemned Israel’s shelling of the UNRWA building in Gaza, which was the lifeline for hundreds of Palestinians. Norway also strongly condemned the Israeli shelling of Al-Quds hospital of the Palestinian Red Crescent. She demanded an immediate ceasefire to alleviate the suffering of civilians in Gaza and lay the foundation for a lasting peace.
JOSEPH NSENGIMANA ( Rwanda), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said 21 days of conflict in Gaza had claimed some 1,000 lives, and the already fragile humanitarian situation had dramatically deteriorated since Israel began its military offensive. The African Group strongly condemned the loss of life on both sides and urged an immediate cessation of hostilities. He noted with regret that eight days since the adoption of resolution 1860 (2009) “scant” progress had been made in its implementation. He urged implementing the text, which called for an immediate and fully respected ceasefire, without further delay.
Urging Israel to comply fully with the resolution, cease its massive attacks and end the wanton destruction of life and property, he called on both parties to end all military activities and pursue the path of lasting peace guided by diplomatic efforts, such as the Egyptian initiative. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s ongoing efforts, and paid tribute to UNRWA, which was actively engaged in alleviating the plight of Gaza citizens. He reiterated the Group’s continued support of all initiatives aimed at achieving a two-State solution.
JOHN SAWERS (United Kingdom), supporting the statement made on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the adoption of Security Council resolution 1860, which his country drafted and sponsored last week. The text was very clear in its call for an “immediate durable and fully respected ceasefire”, which required a halt to Hamas rocket attacks and an end to Israeli military operations. Ongoing Egyptian efforts to deliver that ceasefire were vital, and he hoped for success, as there was an urgent need to move forward. Making a ceasefire durable would be a challenge, but one to which the parties and international communities must rise. “There has to be practical action to improve security, and halt the illegal traffic of arms and their components into Gaza”, he said. In parallel, border crossings in Gaza must be opened. He welcomed apparent progress under way to achieve those goals.
The humanitarian situation was desperate, he said, both applauding the courageous work by UNRWA staff and condemning Israel’s shelling of the United Nations Gaza headquarters yesterday. The United Kingdom had made an additional $10 million available to address urgent humanitarian needs. While he did not seek to limit freedom of debate, he underlined the limits which Article 12 of the United Nations Charter placed on action that could be taken in the Assembly, on matters on which the Security Council was exercising its functions. That work was ongoing. The Council remained seized of the matter and was ready to consider what further action was needed, in light of the Secretary-General’s findings on his return from the region. He urged the Assembly to take care that it acted in support of the provisions of resolution 1860, which provided the right framework for collective action.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said that, as stated in resolution 1860, Japan condemned all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism. As a staunch supporter of UNRWA’s activities for Palestinians, Japan viewed what happened at UNRWA facilities on Thursday as unacceptable. Japan called for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire and fully supported resolution 1860, which had been adopted with the broadest possible political support last week.
As a member of the Council, Japan, united with all Council members, would remain seized of the matter, not just until there was a ceasefire, but until true peace was realized in the region. The Japanese Government had conveyed its appreciation to the Egyptian Government for the diplomatic efforts under way to bring about a ceasefire and supported the efforts of the Secretary-General to bring an end to the violence.
Japan believed it was very important that the solution emanated from the parties concerned, with the support of the regional and international community, not the other way around. Japan would continue to play a constructive role to help the parties achieve peace.
JEAN-FRANCIS R. ZINSOU ( Benin) said the situation in Gaza was totally out of line with the basic principles of humanity. The statistics spoke for themselves. He condemned the intolerable attacks against the United Nations social infrastructure, and use of prohibited weapons against defenceless civilians, which were violations of international humanitarian law. He called on the United Nations to carry out the necessary investigations to find those responsible, and urged doing everything legally possible to end the violence against the Palestinians. In that respect, he called for implementing resolution 1860 (2009), which called for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, and unimpeded supply and distribution of humanitarian aid.
After such a serious crisis, States had a duty to ensure that lasting peace was established and there was no repetition of the situation, he said. The asymmetric conflict had lasted too long, and threatened those who the United Nations had the duty to protect. Benin supported a diplomatic solution, particularly the Franco-Egyptian plan, and called on all stakeholders to continue negotiations to ensure that compromise prevailed. Israelis and Palestinians each had the right to live in their own State. Benin called on all Palestinian factions to establish a united front under the Palestinian Authority. “We must put an end to the bloodshed,” he said. He supported the draft to be adopted.
ABDERRAHIM OULD HADRAMI ( Mauritania) associated his country with the statement of the Arab Group, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement, and welcomed the session dedicated to stopping the illegal practices of Israel. Mauritania expressed deep pain over the suffering of their brothers and sisters in Gaza. He noted that the activities continued, despite the international community’s calls for a ceasefire.
The Israeli aggression had exceeded three weeks and led to a catastrophic humanitarian situation. The international community should move to end the bloodshed, he said. That would only happen with the full application of resolution 1860 and full withdrawal of Israeli military forces and the opening of the borders.
He asked for the full application of the resolution and an immediate ceasefire. He also called for an extraordinary meeting of donor countries to help Gaza. Despite his country’s limited resources, Mauritania had supplied aid to Gaza, including eight trucks of medication, and formula for babies.
PAUL ROBERT TIENDRÉBÉOGO ( Burkina Faso) reasserted its major concern at events in Gaza. It had always condemned the use of force by both parties. He regretted deaths on the Israeli side, but the civilians in Gaza were paying the highest price of the war. Human rights violations on the scale currently seen were unjustifiable and he condemned them. He condemned the targeting of schools, hospitals, media outlets and United Nations offices, which represented a civilian shelter. That would not serve the cause of victory or peace. He urged the complete and unconditional respect for international conventions, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention.
In human and moral terms, no one could remain indifferent to the humanitarian situation in Gaza and, as such, as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Burkina Faso had voted in favour of resolution 1860. While it had come late, it nevertheless gave the Council an opportunity to add its voice of concern. He regretted that the parties had rejected that resolution and continued their fighting. No effort should be spared in ensuring implementation of resolution 1860. He urged finding a just and comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, supporting efforts by Egypt and the Secretary-General to work towards that end. Establishing a monitoring mechanism for the ceasefire should be closely studied. Burkina Faso had always supported a two-State solution, with both States living side by side in peace and security.
PARK IN-KOOK (Republic of Korea) deplored ongoing hostilities in Gaza, and was deeply disturbed by the loss of civilian life at the United Nations school. His delegation was profoundly disturbed by the shelling of the UNRWA compound, and joined the Secretary-General in expressing outrage. He fully supported international efforts to bring an end to the tragic situation, and welcomed the recent adoption of Security Council resolution 1860. He called on all parties to implement it, and thus reach an immediate ceasefire and allow passage of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians.
The Republic of Korea also fully supported the ongoing diplomatic efforts of Egypt, France and others to bring both sides together to agree on a lasting ceasefire, he said. His Government was grateful for the Secretary-General’s efforts. Gazans required immediate humanitarian aid, and his country had provided assistance. Gravely concerned at the negative implications of the current round of fighting, the Republic of Korea believed that only a negotiated political solution was mutually acceptable to all parties. The solution must be based on the process set out in Annapolis, and in line with the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference. It must result in an independent and viable Palestinian State living alongside Israel. The Israeli-Palestinian peace process was critical to the peace and stability of the region and the world.
GIANCARLO SOLER TORRIJOS ( Panama) said the international community had to focus on the situation and this forum had to issue recommendations. Israel’s failure to comply with a ceasefire had been highlighted. Israel must unconditionally lay down its arms and allow the entry of medical and humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Panama had also condemned the attacks of Hamas and supported Israel’s right to defend itself. But, that right must be applied with proportionality. Panama also supported the efforts of the Secretary-General to achieve peace. Panama supported other ongoing initiatives, and only a ceasefire would lead to a permanent solution to the problem. Despite the many endeavours to achieve peace, the Council had not carried out its tasks and it had not been effective. There did not appear to be any will or understanding to support a real solution. Panama called on the Council to assume its responsibility, and demonstrated that it understood the cause and effect of the conflict.
MICHAEL MITCHELL (Grenada), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), expressed grave concern at the attack on Gaza and southern Israel, and unequivocally condemned the attacks on United Nations personnel and convoys. Reiterating the call for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, he was appalled by the disregard of that legitimate demand. The United Nations should not condone such conduct by its Member States. That was why the Community supported the Assembly President’s call for an immediate ceasefire and immediate humanitarian access. With compliance on those two actions, the General Assembly would begin to meet its obligation to promote peace.
Indeed, the world had witnessed the wanton killing of civilians, including women and children, and he supported efforts by the Secretary-General, the Arab League and others. He urged all stakeholders to spare no effort to bring the peace process back on track, calling on them to adopt and adhere to meaningful benchmarks to resolve outstanding issues. The economic embargo must be lifted, and he called for strict observance of the principles of international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Convention, and called on all parties to fulfil their obligations in that regard. Unfettered access must be given to UNRWA and the International Committee of the Red Cross, to enable them to carry out legitimate humanitarian work. His delegation was ready to play its part in finding a just and lasting solution to the international quest for peace between Israel and Palestine, and the wider Middle East. There could be no military solution to the conflict, and he called on all parties to return to the negotiating table.
MOHAMED TOIHIRI ( Comoros) aligned his country with the statements made by the Arab Group, the African Group, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement. He said everything that needed to be said had been said during this session. But, he asked how long the international community would accept the unacceptable, and find excuses for such a massive horror. For how much longer, he asked, would the international community stand by impotently? For how much longer would the civilian population of Gaza be forced to endure that daily horror?
The depths of the horror had been reached and he asked for the full implementation of the Council’s resolution, which meant an immediate ceasefire, the lifting of the blockade and the opening of crossing points, he said. In addition, major efforts had to be made to contribute to the rapid rebuilding of Gaza.
PAULA PARVIAINEN ( Finland), aligning herself with the European Union, joined calls for an immediate ceasefire fully respected by both parties. It was paramount that rocket fire into Israeli cities be stopped, and that Israeli troops withdrew from Gaza, leading to a normal opening of crossings, and the normalization of life for all citizens. Security Council resolution 1860 should be implemented in all its aspects, without further delay.
Reiterating that facilitating humanitarian operations was an obligation of all parties to the conflict, she said the suffering of civilians was intolerable. She condemned Israel’s shelling of UNRWA headquarters, which had aggravated the already dire humanitarian situation. To help UNRWA carry out its vital tasks, Finland was preparing a contribution to the Agency. The goal, after a ceasefire was achieved, should be stepping up the peace process, as called for by resolution 1850 (2008). She encouraged intra-Palestinian reconciliation. There was no military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The solution must be based on the process set out in Annapolis, leading to a viable Palestinian State. She supported all efforts to reach a permanent ceasefire in the area.
GIULIO TERZI DI SANT’AGATA ( Italy) was deeply concerned at the serious humanitarian situation in Gaza. The dramatic rise in civilian victims was unacceptable. They were paying too high a price for a policy of intolerance. He urged respect for the inviolability of schools and United Nations premises. The continuing engagement of the Council was an important and positive aspect, and all parties should heed the appeal of resolution 1860 for an immediate and durable ceasefire.
His Government’s contribution to efforts aimed at helping Palestinians in Gaza included allocating €3 million to United Nations agencies and the Palestinian Red Crescent. Eygpt’s commitment to facilitating a solution should be encouraged, particularly the plan proposed by its President. International efforts to restart the negotiation process should be based on the active role of the Quartet, and the commitment of the European Union, and be reinforced on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative. The Secretary-General’s visit to the region was particularly welcomed. Italy confirmed its willingness to lend all possible efforts to the opening of the Rafah crossing. The goal of today’s meeting should be to put the weight of the United Nations behind resolution 1860, particularly its provision for a road map for a solution.
JOSE FILIPE MORAES CABRAL ( Portugal) said that Portugal was following with deepest concern the violence, human rights violations, civilian deaths, including those of women and children, and the worsening humanitarian situation in and around Gaza. He joined others in the international community calling for an immediate ceasefire and for Israeli forces to withdraw from Gaza, in accordance with resolution 1860. He deeply regretted the violent acts that caused such a high number of civilian casualties, the rocket attacks by Hamas and the Israeli military operation. Both must cease immediately. He invited all parties to do everything in their power to alleviate the current dramatic humanitarian situation. He encouraged Israel to create the necessary security conditions to allow humanitarian aid to be distributed, including medical treatment, to the affected population. He also urged the parties to the conflict to fully respect their obligations under international humanitarian law.
In light of the gravity of the humanitarian crisis, Portugal was contributing an additional $400,000 to the emergency appeal launched by UNRWA, he said. There was no military solution to the conflict in the Middle East. Portugal, along with its European Union partners, continued to support ongoing diplomatic initiatives aimed at stopping the current crisis. He underscored the risk of radicalism emerging from the continued hostilities. He appealed to all parties to return to the principles and objectives of the Annapolis Conference in order to achieve lasting peace in the Middle East, based on a two-State solution, with an independent, viable and democratic Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours.
ZAHIR TANIN ( Afghanistan) said Afghanistan and its people shared Gaza’s pain and stood in solidarity with those in Palestine who were dying, suffering and mourning. Since Israel launched its air and missile attacks on Gaza, the violence had escalated. The fighting was particularly ferocious against innocent civilians. More than 1,000 Palestinians had lost their lives, including 400 children, and 5,000 people had been injured. Israel had systematically disregarded human rights throughout the conflict, in violation of international humanitarian law and human rights law. Humanitarian aid had been denied, supplies were not allowed in and aid workers were in constant risk of attack. Safe zones and civilian areas had been directly targeted. He joined all Member States in condemning Israel’s attack on UNRWA yesterday and commended the extraordinary efforts and dedication of United Nations agencies and staff under such deplorable conditions.
The ramifications of the fighting in Gaza were far-reaching, he said. Every new day of violence meant more desperation. The prospects for reconciliation and peace were fading. The situation in Gaza demanded immediate attention. He stood with the Security Council in condemning all violence against civilians and in calling for immediate implementation of resolution 1860 and an immediate, fully-respected ceasefire leading to Israel’s full withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and a durable negotiated peace. Humanitarian aid and aid agencies must be allowed in, to reach those in need. The Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel was a party, required the protection of civilians during conflict. Israel must respect its duties towards Gaza’s civilian population. The durable solution must include the formation of two States, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and within secure and recognized borders.
JUAN ANTONIO YÁÑEZ-BARNUEVO (Spain), aligning himself with the European Union, condemned the spiral of violence and destruction in Gaza, and rejected the irresponsible conduct which had led to the breaking of the truce and disproportionate actions that ran contrary to international law. Civilians could not be held hostage in political conflicts. There was no military solution to the Gaza crisis. While his Government understood that security was vital for Israel, seeking to achieve it by force of weapons was a course that would lead nowhere. Spain had closely tracked developments in the crisis, he said, noting it had focused on delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza. The first shipment arrived on 29 December, and special aid packages had been adopted since that time. Two planeloads of humanitarian material also had been delivered.
Spain shared indignation at the bombing of the UNRWA facilities and endorsed the request for an explanation from the Israeli Government. Expressing support for the Egyptian initiative, and other endeavours conducted by the European Union, Spain’s President recently received the Palestinian President, who also met with the King. Spain’s Foreign Minister toured the region from 12 to 14 January, and he had met with officials in Syria, Egypt and Palestine, among others. The close links between Spain and Turkey, bolstered by the Alliance of Civilizations, had helped in making an effective contribution to the achievement of a ceasefire. His Government wondered about an international coordination and supervision mechanism, and was ready to participate in such a mechanism. He also urged efforts to promote inter-Palestinian reconciliation. He fully believed in the Assembly’s role in seeking a solution to the Gaza crisis, in support of the efforts of the Security Council and Secretary-General. Spain would support any Assembly statement on the matter.
SANJA ŠTIGLIC (Slovenia), aligning herself with the European Union, welcomed the adoption of Security Council resolution 1860, and called on the parties in conflict to immediately cease all acts of violence. Her delegation strongly condemned attacks on schools, hospitals and United Nations premises, and was deeply concerned at the humanitarian situation in Gaza, where the anguish had dramatically increased in recent days.
It was of the utmost importance that humanitarian aid reached Gazans without hindrance, she continued. Personnel must be guaranteed free movement and access. The wounded and seriously ill must be evacuated. The most fragile group, women and children, lived short of everything except violence. She called on both sides to achieve a ceasefire immediately. The parties must restrain from any actions that would further threaten the viability of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She strongly supported Egypt in its ongoing efforts to achieve a comprehensive and durable ceasefire.
PAUL KAVANAGH ( Ireland), associating himself with the statement made on behalf of the European Union, said Ireland welcomed the adoption of resolution 1860 and its call for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire. He urged Israel and Hamas to cease all hostilities in Gaza, and those directed against the people of southern Israel. The appalling humanitarian situation prevailing on the ground in Gaza demanded no less.
Ireland was very concerned about the Israeli military’s actions that had compelled UNRWA to suspend its operations two times in Gaza. He reminded all sides of their obligations to comply fully with international humanitarian law. All incidents, such as the shelling of United Nations facilities in Gaza and the killing of medical personnel while performing their duties, should be fully investigated by the international community, he said. The recent tragic events showed that only a vigorous political process could achieve progress towards a lasting peace and stability in the Middle East, which would be based on a negotiated two-State solution.
Together with other European Union members, Ireland stood ready to assist other members of the Quartet and other countries in the region as they sought to ensure the resolution’s implementation.
JOHN MOURIKIS ( Greece) aligned himself with the statement of the European Union and welcomed the Assembly President’s initiative to call the emergency session. Greece strongly believed that the international community should speak with one voice, condemning all acts of violence that led to the loss of life of innocent people. Greece fully supported resolution 1860 and called on all sides to work immediately and constructively for its full implementation.
An immediate ceasefire was the first step and the peace process should be intensified. Greece supported the comprehensive process launched in Annapolis, the most recent initiative of Presidents Sarkozy and Mubarak and the efforts of the Secretary-General. The international community should spare no efforts to bring about a just, viable and long-due solution to the problems. He called on all parties to comply with the Council resolutions, show respect for human lives and pursue efforts so peace and stability could come to the region.
SYLVIE LUCAS ( Luxembourg), aligning herself with the European Union, said her delegation was horrified at the loss of human life in Gaza. The violence must stop now. As demanded by Security Council resolution 1860, a lasting and durable ceasefire must be put in place. The rocket fire of Hamas on Israel must stop unconditionally and the Israeli military action must end. The rules of international law must no longer remain a dead letter.
She urged taking all necessary precautions to protect civilians, medical personnel and hospitals. UNRWA installations and shelters had been targeted by bombing, which was totally unacceptable. Unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid must be guaranteed. It was clear that no winner could emerge from the confrontation. A lasting peace could only be the fruit of a political process, with the goal of achieving a viable independent Palestinian State living alongside Israel within safe and recognized borders.
PIET DE KLERK (Netherlands), associating himself with the statement made on behalf of the European Union, said the rockets fired by Hamas against Israeli civilians was an act of terrorism. Israel had the right to defend itself in conformity with international law, that meant, among others, civilian casualties had to be avoided.
Netherlands added its voice to the call for an immediate and durable ceasefire and fully supported resolution 1860. He supported the diplomatic initiatives that could bring about an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire. The Netherlands Government and Parliament advocated for an independent investigation into all cases in which a United Nations organization, or an internationally recognized relief agency, questioned whether combatants’ use of force was in conformity with international legal norms. Netherlands would also contribute to efforts to prevent the re-occurrence of the events in Gaza, such as border monitoring meant to halt arms smuggling.
THOMAS MATUSSEK ( Germany) deplored the high number of civilian casualties and the suffering of all civilians caused by the ongoing escalation of violence. He repeated his call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. Germany’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, had just returned from his second visit to the region within the past week. His efforts supported ongoing initiatives to reach a permanent and lasting ceasefire that permitted immediate access of humanitarian aid, while guaranteeing security for Israel and the Palestinian people. Rocket attacks by Gaza into Israel, the smuggling of weapons into Gaza and Israel’s military attack must stop unconditionally. The cessation of fighting should allow for a lasting and normal opening of all border crossings, as called for in the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access. The European Union had repeatedly stated its readiness to re-dispatch the European Union Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) to Rafah, so that border could be re-opened in cooperation with Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Germany was willing to contribute to that crucial mission.
Germany had made every effort to support the Egyptian President’s initiative, particularly through German expertise in border management, he said. He expressed hope that the talks in Cairo would soon lead to a ceasefire and to initial concrete steps towards permanent and lasting arrangements. Food, urgent medical supplies and fuel must be distributed to people in need. Safe evacuation of the injured must be allowed and immediate access of aid workers should be made possible through the opening of border crossing points. He called on both sides to continue to respect the daily temporary ceasefires, in order to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. Germany had contributed €11 million to the humanitarian relief effort. Israel’s shelling of the United Nations compound in Gaza was unacceptable and he demanded that the facts of it be clarified. He stressed the urgent need to intensify the peace process.
RENE DINESEN ( Denmark) called for an immediate, sustainable and durable ceasefire that provided for the necessary security of Israel and the Palestinians. Denmark fully acknowledged the right of Israel to defend itself against rockets and terrorist attacks and its right, according to the Charter, to self-defence. Such self-defence had to be carried out within the limits laid out by, and in compliance with, humanitarian law.
By starting the conflict with a barrage of rockets from civilian neighbourhoods in Gaza into civilian neighbourhoods in Israel, Hamas had brought enormous suffering onto the Palestinian people in Gaza, he said. Denmark was deeply concerned by the civilian suffering in Gaza and it was very important that Israel did everything possible to improve the humanitarian situation and secure unhindered distribution of aid.
The priority should be to secure an immediate ceasefire, he said. The challenges ahead were Gaza’s reconstruction, the opening of borders and prevention of weapons smuggling.
MINAS HADJIMICHAEL ( Cyprus), fully aligning himself with the European Union, was gravely concerned at the situation itself and the lack of respect for, and implementation of, resolution 1860. He regretted that it confirmed, yet again, the shortcomings of the collective security system. Condemning the absence of a ceasefire, Israel’s excessive and disproportionate use of force and all acts of violence, he also condemned Israel’s shelling of United Nations headquarters in Gaza yesterday, and attacks on UNRWA schools last week. It was of paramount importance to respect international law, notably international humanitarian law, and he called for an impartial inquiry into allegations of violations.
Cyprus welcomed the periodic opening of humanitarian corridors, but had seen the inadequacy of that measure in ensuring the provision of the necessary humanitarian assistance. He urged the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Gaza, reiterating that Gaza would be an integral part of a Palestinian State. He hoped that the peace process would be revived, despite the damage it would undoubtedly sustain through the ongoing military operation. He supported efforts by the Secretary-General to ensure implementation of resolution 1860, and other efforts to that end, including the Egyptian and French initiatives.
JUSTIN SERUHERE (United Republic of Tanzania) supported the statements of the General Assembly President and the Deputy Secretary-General. He expressed deep concern over the crisis in Gaza, which threatened peace and security in the entire region. In the past three weeks, the world had witnessed the unprecedented suffering of civilians, particularly women and children, who had been caught in the conflict. The humanitarian situation in Gaza was cause for concern. It was important for the international community to act in unity, and swiftly to de-escalate the crisis and ease the suffering of the people in Gaza.
He called for an immediate ceasefire and cessation of all hostilities between the two parties, to allow for a negotiated solution to end the conflict, as well as to allow humanitarian aid to flow in. He supported the two-State solution, of Palestine and Israel living side by side in peace and security. The United Nations Security Council had a central role to play in ending the crisis. He supported the Council’s work and called for an immediate appropriate consensus on the way forward. Resolving the question of Palestine was essential to achieving durable peace in the Middle East. The United Nations and the international community must act now, not tomorrow. It was as imperative, as it was doable.
KIRSTY GRAHAM ( New Zealand) was very concerned with the situation in Gaza and fully supported the call of resolution 1860 for a durable ceasefire. Hamas had to end its rocket attacks on Israel and Israel had to withdraw its forces from Gaza. She also deplored the attacks on United Nations buildings in the area. There were allegations of serious violations of humanitarian law and New Zealand supported the investigation of these violations. She urged both sides to renounce violence and make credible and decisive advances to achieve a durable peace.
PER ÖRNÉUS ( Sweden) welcomed the adoption of Security Council resolution 1860 and called for its full implementation. Strongly supporting the ongoing regional and international efforts to find a rapid solution to the crisis, he stressed the need to reactivate the peace process and encourage intra-Palestinian reconciliation. He expressed grave concern at the humanitarian crisis, particularly as civilians were being subjected to untold suffering. His country was particularly concerned about the children.
He condemned the attacked on the UNRWA facility, the major humanitarian actor in the area. That was unacceptable. As a result, UNRWA’s ability to distribute medicines and fuel had been severely impacted. Sweden strongly emphasized that all civilians, including the wounded and sick, medical personnel and medical buildings be protected in line with international humanitarian law.
JAN GRAULS ( Belgium) said his delegation was extremely concerned at the violence in Gaza, as it was a serious threat to regional stability. Fully supporting the European Union’s statement, Belgium firmly condemned the escalation of violence; the situation on the ground was clearly a violation of international humanitarian law. Information about attacks against humanitarian workers and hospitals was shocking. He condemned violations of the rule of law, saying that they should be the subject of inquiry.
Belgium supported a ceasefire in line with Security Council resolution 1860, he continued. Both parties should unconditionally end their activities in the interests of the civilians for whom they were responsible. Belgium supported ongoing efforts by the Secretary-General to achieve a ceasefire and, on 14 January, evacuated six wounded children from Gaza who had since been admitted to Belgian hospitals. Belgium was willing to host others, depending on requests by humanitarian organizations.
SAVIOUR F. BORG ( Malta), supporting the statement made on behalf of the European Union, said the humanitarian crisis in and around the Gaza Strip could no longer be condoned. As many Assembly interventions had shown, military operations and the firing of rockets did not lead anywhere but to a considerable loss of life, and destruction.
Malta condemned the rocket attacks on Israeli towns and on citizens from Gaza. It supported the efforts of the Secretary-General and the Egyptian President to halt the hostilities in the Gaza Strip. The provisions of resolution 1860 had to be fully respected and implemented. The situation on the ground required that all commitments were adhered to, through the use of an international monitoring mechanism. The peace process, based on the Arab Peace Initiative and agreements reached at the Annapolis Conference for a two-State solution, must be resumed, he said.
CAROLINE ZIADE ( Lebanon) said today’s meeting was preceded by thick smoke over Gaza, which placed on the Assembly a major responsibility. In the context of efforts made to end the aggression against the Palestinians, the Assembly had to be the “rostrum of right”, guardian of the provisions of international law, and source of a resolution that would garner the widest possible support. “We want the resolution to have the necessary effectiveness”, she said, which did not mean Lebanon was ready to barter away the principles enshrined in the Charter.
Lebanon would not spare any effort in its solidarity with the Palestinian people, to help them confront their injustices, she said. Lebanon had decided to provide $1 million, and the Minister of Expatriate Affairs had contributed to the Security Council in its support of resolution 1860 (2009). Israel responded with intransigence, and continued in its aggression.
How similar was Palestinian suffering to that of the Lebanese at the hand of repeated Israeli aggression? she asked. The bloody events in Gaza showed that the root of the problem was Israel’s continued occupation, and its rejection of the peace process based on the Arab Peace Initiative. Had the time not come to mobilize international efforts, and deter Israel in its criminal practices? Lebanon had just welcomed the Secretary-General in his visit to the region as a representative of international legitimacy. Lebanon looked to the United Nations to rise to its duties, as entrusted to it in the Charter.
CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Observer of the Holy See, urged that Council resolution 1860 be fully implemented and he called on all parties to fully abide by the requirements of international humanitarian law, in order to protect civilians. During 60 years of co-existence, the Israeli and Palestinian peoples had seen a long history of conflict and dialogue, including the Madrid meetings, the Oslo accords, the Wye Memorandum, the peace process of the Quartet, the Road Map and the Annapolis Conference.
The Holy See attributed the failed efforts to the lack of courageous and coherent political will for establishing peace, from every side, and an unwillingness to come together and forge a just and lasting peace. The Assembly could help the parties in the conflict discover new patterns, based on mutual acceptance and cooperation, for establishing peace, he said.
The representative of Ecuador said that, since the Assembly President had withdrawn his sponsorship, Ecuador was pleased to sponsor the resolution, along with several other countries. She then offered a revision to the text. Reading in English, she said the first paragraph would be replaced with “demands full respect of the Security Council resolution 1860 (2009), calls for an immediate ceasefire and immediate, unconditional withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, and calls for the unimpeded distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including food, fuel and medical treatment”.
Action on Draft Resolution
As the Assembly moved to act on draft resolution A/ES-10/L.21, the General Assembly President announced that, since a vote had been reflected by Israel, he was forced to withdraw his sponsorship.
The representative of Egypt said that, despite the Assembly President’s announcement that he would allow time for consultations ongoing between the European Union and Palestine, he had chosen to give Ecuador the floor before him. There had been agreement on other amendments based on his guidance. “You gave us time to negotiate, and we reached a text,” he said.
Responding, the Assembly President said he had not seen the Egyptian representative.
The representative of Syria asked the Assembly President not to be upset over the deadlock. The President had attempted to arrive at agreement on a text which should, in principle, serve the Palestinian people who were being butchered in Gaza. He had dedicated himself as a role model, even when some tried to upset his leadership of the session. The truth was that he had reinstituted lost credibility to the consciousness of the Organization, and alleviated the pains of countless innocents who were being butchered. He supported Ecuador’s request, and wished to adopt verbatim her comments.
The representative of Czech Republic, speaking on behalf of the European Union, strongly supported the representative of Egypt’s comments. His delegation had worked hard with the Permanent Observer of Palestine, and had achieved a new text.
The representative of Iran supported Ecuador’s comments and the resolution tabled by her country. Iran wished to be a co-sponsor of the resolution. As to the representative of Syria’s comments, he did not wish to explain the matter. It was clear that minutes mattered to innocent civilians in Gaza.
The representative of Venezuela said the General Assembly President had acted in a transparent manner, and his role would be recognized by future generations. The Assembly must speak calmly and look to protect the interests of peace and solidarity. Venezuela had presented this morning six additions to the text. Thus, all delegations had the possibility of consulting other regional groups and, as such, the text should be put to a vote. Those amendments included demands for the withdrawal of Israel from the Gaza Strip, and a lifting of the economic and military blockade.
He supported the decision of Ecuador to sponsor the President’s text, which represented enormous work. Venezuela supported the draft presented by the delegation of Ecuador. He appealed to the consensus of all delegations to support the amendment, since the withdrawal of Israeli forces would be necessary in order to provide humanitarian relief.
The Observer of Palestine thanked the delegations for their support of a resolution that would send the loudest message to Israel to stop its aggression against his people immediately. He had negotiated in good faith on a resolution that would be backed by the entire Assembly and in compliance with resolution 1860, and beginning with an immediate ceasefire. He thanked everyone for their support, including Ecuador and the Assembly President.
He said he knew that everybody was outraged at what was happening in Gaza and he appealed to the Assembly to support the text that was negotiated with the European group, it was faithful to resolution 1860 and was a text that could be lived with. To serve the interests of the people in Gaza and to stop the carnage, it required a unity of the Assembly against Israel. He asked that small issues, though important, be placed aside, and the Assembly should back this text. He asked them to not give Israel a gift of dividing the Assembly, with delegations split over whom was more devoted to the Palestinian people. He asked them to accept the text and put it to a vote.
In a point of order, the representative of Egypt said that, after the representative of Palestine’s comments, which was not in favour of the text tabled by Ecuador, the Assembly must apply minds and hearts in support of the text that had been negotiated all day with the European Union. That was what Palestine had asked for, and he supported the representative of Palestine’s request to put the text to a vote.
The General Assembly President said the delegates should vote on the first proposal presented.
The Secretary, citing rule 91 of the Rules of Procedure, said that, if two or more proposals related to the same question, the General Assembly shall, unless it decides otherwise, vote on proposals in order in which they had been submitted.
The representative of Ecuador was being asked to vote on a resolution that was unfamiliar. There was confusion. The only resolution in which there was clarity, and in which there was a small amendment, was that of Ecuador. Regarding the resolution Egypt was speaking about, she wondered who was presenting it? Where was it? Not everyone had seen it. She requested time to review it.
The General Assembly President responded that the comments by the representative of Ecuador were fully appropriate, and he suggested taking 10 minutes.
The representative of Egypt said what was needed was something close to unanimity. “We are running on the same course but we are running on two different tracks”, he said. The draft had been negotiated between Palestine and the European Union and, as Palestine was not yet a full Member, Egypt would present it. Unless agreement was reached in recess, he moved for a vote on that text.
The representative of France urged listening to the Palestinian representative and suspending the meeting briefly to review the text. It had been given to the Secretariat an hour ago.
The representative of the Czech Republic supported the representative of Egypt’s comments, saying that the basis of the text was similar to that presented by the representative of Ecuador.
The representative of Ecuador said a resolution could not be voted on unless another was withdrawn. She was following rule 87 for the vote, and the text to be voted upon was the text she presented.
The meeting was then suspended for 15 minutes.
The representative of Ecuador said that, after consultations with co-sponsors of the resolution tabled by her country, she proposed returning to the original text. To reach an agreement, she was willing to withdraw its draft amendment, as long as the text was accepted by Egypt and the European Union. She called for the original text, without amendment, to be put to a vote.
The representative of Egypt said everyone had conducted negotiations with the need to have the largest number of votes. Under rule 91, he moved to have a vote on the resolution A/ES-10/L.21/Rev.1 prior to the draft proposal submitted by the representative of Ecuador. It was almost identical to the draft that Ecuador was proposing for a vote. He asked for a vote on which draft to vote on first.
The Secretary said that rule 91 read as follows: “if two or more proposals relate to the same question, the General Assembly shall, unless it decides otherwise, vote on the proposals in the order in which they have been submitted”. In accordance with that rule, the General Assembly should first consider document A/ES-10/L.21. However, in light of Egypt’s request, the Assembly would first decide on the request for priority.
By a vote of 114 in favour to 10 against ( Indonesia, Malaysia, Cuba, Brunei Darussalam, Nicaragua, Syria, Venezuela, Iran, Bolivia, Ecuador), with 20 abstentions, the Assembly approved a proposal to take action first on Egypt’s draft resolution. (See Annex I)
The representative of Costa Rica said the machine had not recorded his vote in favour of the proposal.
The representative of Tunisia said his vote in favour had not been registered on the machine.
The Secretary drew attention to document A/ES-10/438, which the Assembly took note of.
The representative of Malta said the same held for his vote in favour.
The Assembly then took up resolution A/ES-10/L.21/Rev.1, adopting that text by a vote of 143 in favour to 3 against ( Israel, Nauru, United States), with 9 abstentions ( Australia, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, Syria, Venezuela). (See Annex II)
Following the vote, the representative of Cape Verde said that the Secretariat had come to him and told him that he had not paid his arrears. Cape Verde’s vote had not appeared on the board. But, there was something deeply wrong in the Secretariat. Someone must explain why some delegations that had not paid their arrears had been allowed to vote, but his delegation had not.
The Secretary said that had been explained in a statement by the Assembly President and a letter had been circulated.
The representative of Venezuela said that his delegation had been convinced that most Members of the Assembly would vote for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. He abstained in the vote.
The Observer of Palestine thanked the General Assembly and its President for achieving a nearly unanimous vote that would call for an immediate ceasefire, to be followed shortly by Israel’s immediate withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. He thanked all delegations, even those that had abstained in the vote, for applying pressure on Israel and isolating that country and compelling it to comply with Security Council resolution 1860 (2009).
However, if Israel did not comply, the Palestinian delegation would “go knocking on the door of the Security Council with a Chapter VII draft resolution”. He expected the Assembly to be with the Palestinian people until the gunfire stopped, the siege was lifted and the borders were opened. The Assembly had sent a very strong message tonight to Israel to end its aggression.
Costa Rica’s representative said that his delegation’s vote, in favour of the text, had not been recorded.
On a point of order, the representative of Gambia underscored that tonight the Assembly had actually taken a vote placing priority on a “Rev.1”, while the original text was still on the table. The Assembly had set a bad precedent by doing so.
The representative of Cuba said that his delegation would have preferred the formula originally proposed by Ecuador, which was the closest to the position adopted by the Non-Aligned Movement. That was why Cuba had voted against giving priority to the text presented by Egypt. Nevertheless, because of its solidarity with the Palestinian people and firm condemnation of Israel’s aggression, it had voted in favour of the Egyptian text.
Djibouti’s representative said that his delegation’s vote did not appear on the board, but that it had voted in favour of the resolution.
The representative of Iran said that his delegation admired the Assembly President’s hard work and sensitivity to the situation of the Palestinian people. It had been Iran’s sincere hope that, under such able leadership, the Assembly could have adopted a strong text condemning the Israeli regime’s crimes and aggression under way right now in the Gaza Strip, as well as an immediate withdrawal of that regime’s forces from that occupied Territory.
Regrettably, since the resolution adopted was not the one Iran had expected, it had abstained. He said that the root cause of the current situation was the occupation of the Territory by the illegitimate Israeli regime. Until that problem was addressed and the Palestinian people were able to exercise their inalienable right to self determination, the hope for peace in the region would be no more than a futile wish.
The representative of the Federated States of Micronesia had voted against the resolution.
Israel ’s representative said many speakers in today’s “open and endless” emergency session had excelled in rhetoric, but less so in reality. Israel had engaged in the current situation not by its choice, but because it had been forced to do so. Hamas had fired numerous rockets and 1 million innocent Israeli civilians had been endangered. No leader of any State in the room would hold a mere resolution over the head of its citizens to protect them from terrorist attacks.
She said that Article 12, section 1 of the Charter prohibited the Assembly from taking action or making recommendations on matters while the Council was still seized of those matters. Further, the resolution was deeply flawed and one-sided. It did not mention Hamas and its use of civilian homes, schools and mosques to hide weapons and launch terrorist attacks. It did not mention Hamas and its enormous efforts to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip. That being the case, the resolution had no relevance, as it clung to a distorted reality. Indeed, it threw in stark relief the gap between the real world and what was happening on First Avenue.
Moreover, Israel and many others in the region were seeking to bring about conditions on the ground to bring about a solution. Finally, she said that terrorism was a destructive, evil plague and fighting it was enshrined by the United Nations as a core objective of the Organization’s work. Israel expected support from the Assembly and others as it faced down terrorism. Uniting for peace meant uniting against terrorism. She reiterated that her delegation found the resolution procedurally and substantially flawed and had voted against it.
The representative of Canada said his Government continued to call for an immediate ceasefire. He supported the resolution’s call for compliance with resolution 1860 to achieve that, but regretted that it failed to recognize that rocket attacks by Hamas had led to the crisis. Those must be stopped. For those reasons, Canada abstained from the vote.
The representative of the Czech Republic, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said he had voted in favour of the resolution. His delegation noted that the text adopted did not contain explicit reference to illegal arms smuggling. To achieve a sustainable solution, that issue would have to be addressed.
The representative of the United States said he was deeply concerned about the situation in Gaza and southern Israel, a serious matter which was best dealt with through efforts on the ground. The basic elements for a durable ceasefire had been laid, and the United Nations had spoken through resolution 1860. The Secretary-General was in the region. The Memorandum of Understanding on prevention of the supply of arms to terrorist groups was signed today between the United States and Israel. A separate General Assembly resolution was neither necessary, nor useful. All efforts should be focused on implementing resolution 1860, so that the Assembly could turn again to the goals of resolution 1850 (2008): a lasting peace based on recognition of a two-State solution, among other things.
The representative of Syria said, first, that, if there was a mistake in the outcome of today’s deliberations, it was not that of the President. The main reason for the resumed session was to handle the paralysis created by the Security Council in dealing with the suffering of Palestinian people. Delegates were deforming the purpose of today’s session by creating the same inertia from which the Council was suffering. The majority voting in favour of the text was not the one that the Palestinians in Gaza needed, nor the one called for by the Palestinian representative.
Delegates had found themselves in front of a machinery of procedural manipulation, which resulted in a vote on something related to the suffering of Palestinians, he said. That only served Israeli aggression against Gazans. The resolution was criticized minutes after its adoption, and some might think a victory had been achieved. That victory was not good for people in Gaza. Those who voted in favour of the important resolution did so thinking they would render a service, but they did not. Israel would finish its dirty job against the people of Gaza. For such reasons, he abstained from voting.
The representative of Ecuador agreed that acting in good faith sometimes did not produce anything at the United Nations. Explaining her vote to abstain, she said she could not understand how States could disagree with the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Territory. She was also surprised by introductory paragraph 3. Procedure would have called for voting paragraph by paragraph. Ecuador took its position because one thing mattered: the well-being of Palestinians.
The representative of Australia said his abstention should not be misinterpreted. His Government supported the call in resolution 1860 for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire. He believed all parties should avoid actions that could increase the suffering of innocent civilians. While he believed the draft voted on was an improvement over the original, he still did not believe it went far enough. To achieve a durable ceasefire, actions needed to happen that did not appear in the text. Rocket attacks against Israel must cease. Arms smuggling into Gaza must end. If those issues had been included, Australia would have been able to support the resolution. He also was disturbed that some had thought that success would be achieved by isolating Israel.
The representative of Indonesia said the Palestinian cause was an Indonesian one as well. “To be Indonesian is to be Palestinian”, he said. It was with a heavy heart that he had not been able to support the General Assembly resolution, particularly as it had been among the main proponents of the special session. Delegates had to put their moral conscience above anything else. The world needed more than a simple reaffirmation of Security Council resolutions. Out of its respect for the General Assembly Presidency, Indonesia resisted adding to the original draft resolution. He would have tremendous difficulty explaining how the General Assembly was not able to say to Israel: “end your violence now”. In preambular paragraph 3, the General Assembly had not even identified the main perpetrator of the situation: Israel. The resolution did not go far enough. By abstaining, he was showing that Indonesia was in 110 per cent support of their cause.
The representative of Bolivia, regarding the original resolution, said it reflected the feeling of the international community. Bolivia would have supported Ecuador’s proposal, with the included amendment. Bolivia believed the cause of peace came first and foremost, and the General Assembly had an unavoidable duty to speak out. Steps were being taken towards greater prospects. He condemned the aggressor and expressed solidarity with Palestinians.
The representative of Costa Rica said his delegation voted in favour of the resolution adopted this evening, because it responded to the most urgent aspects of the situation in the Gaza Strip. He deplored that it did not mention responsibility Hamas had in the deterioration of the situation. Costa Rica had already established diplomatic ties with the Palestinian State, which had a right to exist alongside Israel within internationally recognized borders.
The representative of Venezuela said his delegation had abstained in the vote for one very essential reason: Venezuela would have liked the text to specifically condemn the Israeli occupation of Gaza and demand the withdrawal of Israeli forces from that Territory. Venezuela believed that point could have been accepted by a large number of delegations. While Venezuela had been reasonably sure that Israel and its closest allies would vote against the resolution, it seemed unthinkable that members of the Arab League would agree on a text that did not call for an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Israeli forces. Venezuela would remain committed to the cause of the Palestinian people, although it had been forced to abstain in the vote.
The Assembly President asked those delegations whose votes had not been accurately reflected to inform the Secretariat of their intended vote.
The representative of Libya said that his country had voted in favour of the resolution, although he wished that it had spoken more strongly in light of the grave conditions on the ground in the Gaza Strip. At the same time, he understood the imbalance of power within the Organization and recognized that the resolution just adopted represented the bare minimum that was necessary to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people.
Lebanon’s representative said that her delegation had voted in favour of the resolution, though it would have wished that the language had been more forceful in its condemnation of Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip and its call for withdrawal of Israeli forces.
Egypt’s representative conveyed his delegation’s sincere thanks for the President’s swift action since Israel had launched its assault on Gaza. He thought that the President had, to some degree, prodded the Security Council to action last week by scheduling the resumed emergency session on the very day the Council was set to meet. He thanked all those that had voted in favour of the text, as well as those that had abstained in the vote. “We’re all in the same boat,” he said, adding that the resolution did not represent a victory for some over others, but it was a victory for all. He said that the text was very clear in its expression of grave concern about the escalation of the violence since the adoption of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009). It was quite clear who was being addressed. The text called for a ceasefire.
How could there be withdrawal without a ceasefire? The resolution was very clear. Everyone in the room knew how hard Egypt was working on many fronts to achieve a solution on the ground that, he was certain, would lead to a withdrawal of Israeli forces. The issue now was to put emphasis on the political negotiations and to achieve a ceasefire on the ground.
In closing the special session, the General Assembly President said he would be less than frank if he did not say he was very disappointed. The Assembly was in far worse shape than he had thought. “We will never make it if we don’t act in a more decisive and affirmative manner.”
Vote on Motion to Give Priority to L.21/Rev.1
The motion to vote first on resolution A/ES-10/L.21/Rev.1 was adopted by a recorded vote of 112 in favour to 10 against, with 20 abstentions, as follows:**
In favour: Afghanistan, Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Dominica, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Hungary, Iceland, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Against: Bolivia, Brunei Darussalam, Cuba, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Syria, Venezuela.
Abstain: Barbados, Belize, Bhutan, Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Lesotho, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Yemen.
Absent: Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti**, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Israel, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Malawi, Malta, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tunisia**, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, United States, Vanuatu, Viet Nam.
Vote on Text Demanding Full Respect for Security Council Resolution 1860
The draft resolution demanding full respect for Security Council resolution 1860 (2009) (document A/ES-10/L.21/Rev.1) was adopted by a recorded vote of 142 in favour to 4 against, with 8 abstentions, as follows:***
In favour: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Against: Israel, Nauru, United States, Venezuela***.
Abstain: Australia, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, Syria.
Absent: Antigua and Barbuda, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti***, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gabon, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nicaragua, Palau, Paraguay, Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.
* *** *
** Following the meeting, the Secretariat was informed that Djibouti and Tunisia had intended to vote in favour.
*** Following the meeting, the Secretariat was informed that Djibouti had intended to vote in favour and Venezuela had intended to abstain.