United Nations votes overwhelmingly in favour of humanitarian truce in Gaza

Resolution drafted by Arab states passes by margin of 120 to 14, with 45 abstentions at the UN General Assembly.

Voting results are displayed as the Unite Nations General Assembly voted on a nonbinding resolution calling for a "humanitarian truce" in Gaza
Voting results are displayed as the United Nations General Assembly voted on a nonbinding resolution calling for a 'humanitarian truce' in Gaza and a cessation of hostilities between Israel and the Palestinian armed group Hamas on Friday, October 27 [Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo]

The United Nations General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian truce between Israel and the Palestinian armed group Hamas.

The 193-member body passed the resolution, drafted by a group of 22 Arab countries, by a margin of 120 to 14, with 45 countries abstaining. The United States and Israel voted no.

Speaking before the vote, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said that voting against the resolution “means approving this senseless war, this senseless killing”. Israel denounced the vote as “infamy”.

The resolution is non-binding, but serves as a barometer of global opinion as fighting between Israel and Hamas nears the end of its third week, following an assault by Hamas on southern Israel that killed more than 1,400 people.

The body convened as Israel intensified its bombardment on Gaza, where phone and internet service have been cut off and Israel has engaged in limited ground skirmishes before an expected invasion.

The General Assembly voted after the UN Security Council had failed to take action over two weeks, with the US and Russia using their veto powers to block proposals supported by the other.

The adopted resolution calls for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities” and “firmly rejects any attempts at the forced transfer of the Palestinian civilian population”.

It also stresses the need to avoid a wider escalation of the fighting and demands increased humanitarian aid for Gaza, where only a small handful of trucks carrying aid have been allowed to enter over the last week.

A Canadian-introduced amendment to the resolution that would have added a condemnation of the Hamas attack did not receive the necessary two-thirds majority.

The resolution calls for the immediate release of all civilians being held hostage and condemns “all acts of terrorism and indiscriminate attacks” including those on Israeli civilians, but does not name Hamas specifically.

Israeli UN ambassador Gilad Erdan said that “a ceasefire means giving Hamas time to rearm itself,” and that the vote was not intended to bring peace but to “tie Israel’s hands”.

Speaking on Thursday, Erdan had said, “The only place this resolution belongs is in the dustbin of history”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies