120 UN Members Slam Excessive Israeli Force against Palestinians in Gaza

120 UN Members Slam Excessive Israeli Force against Palestinians in Gaza

Thursday, 14 June, 2018 - 08:45
Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour applauds after the General Assembly adopted a resolution condemning Israel’s excessive use of force against Gaza protesters. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
A strong majority of 120 countries at the UN General Assembly voted on Wednesday in favor of an Arab-backed resolution condemning Israel for its excessive use of force against Palestinian protesters in Gaza.

The resolution deplores Israel's use of "excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force" against Palestinian civilians and calls for protection measures for Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

The gatherers also rejected a US bid to blame the Hamas movement for the violence in the coastal strip.

At least 129 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire during protests near the border with Gaza that began at the end of March. No Israelis have died.

Presented by Algeria and Turkey on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries, the measure won a decisive 120 votes in the 193-member assembly, with 8 votes against and 45 abstentions.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley dismissed the resolution as "one-sided".

An amendment presented by the United States that condemned Hamas for "inciting violence" along the border with Gaza failed to garner the two-third majority needed for adoption.

Arab countries backing the measure turned to the General Assembly after the United States used its veto in the Security Council to block the resolution on June 1.

Unlike the Security Council, resolutions adopted by the assembly are non-binding and there is no veto.

The resolution tasks UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres with the drafting of proposals for an "international protection mechanism" for the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

These could range from setting up an observer mission to a full-blown peacekeeping force, but action on any option would require backing from the Security Council, where the United States has veto power.

“We need protection of our civilian population,” Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour told the General Assembly before the vote, adding that the resolution was “intended to contribute to a de-escalation of the volatile situation.”

“We cannot remain silent in the face of the most violent crimes and human rights violations being systematically perpetrated against our people,” he said.

Turkey's Ambassador Feridun Hadi Sinirlioglu defended the resolution, saying it was "about taking sides with international law" and showing the Palestinians that the world "does care about their suffering."

Taking the podium, Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon assailed the measure as an "attempt to take away our basic right to self-defense." He warned ambassadors that by supporting the resolution "you are empowering Hamas."

France was among 12 EU countries that backed the resolution, but Britain abstained along with Italy, Poland and 13 other EU member-states. Russia and China voted in favor.

Australia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, the Solomon Islands and Togo joined the United States and Israel in voting against the resolution.

The resolution asked Guterres to report back within 60 days on proposals “on ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation, including ... recommendations regarding an international protection mechanism.”

The General Assembly last held a similarly contentious vote on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in December, when 128 countries defied President Donald Trump and voted in favor of a resolution calling for the US to drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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