GENERAL ASSEMBLY DEMANDS FULL RESPECT FOR SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 1860
CALLING FOR IMMEDIATE GAZA CEASEFIRE, AS EMERGENCY SESSION CONCLUDES
Resolution Adopted by Vote of 142-4-8, 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 142 in favour to 4 against (United States, Israel, Venezuela, Nauru), with 8 abstentions (Australia, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, Syria). (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.
Link to the text: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2009/ga10809.doc.htm