UN General Assembly Overwhelmingly Calls for Gaza Cease-Fire: Greece Advocates Humanitarian Action

UN General Assembly


In an unprecedented move, the United Nations General Assembly has overwhelmingly voted to call for a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza, signalling a global push to end the Israel-Hamas conflict. The resolution, passed on December 13, 2023, received strong support with 153 votes in favour, 10 against, and 23 abstentions.

The outcome highlights the increasing isolation of the United States and Israel, with eight other nations, including Austria, Czechia, Guatemala, Liberia, Micronesia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, and Paraguay, joining them in opposing the resolution.

The General Assembly's decisive support for the cease-fire exceeds that of the October 27 resolution, emphasizing the growing international concern for the situation. Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour called it a "historic day" and stressed the collective duty to end the aggression against the Palestinian people.

The United States finds itself increasingly isolated in supporting Israel's military campaign, especially after the surprise attack by Hamas on October 7, resulting in the death of around 1,200 people and the abduction of approximately 240. President Joe Biden, adopting stronger language than usual, warned of Israel losing international support due to its "indiscriminate bombing" of Gaza.

Following the U.S. veto of a Security Council resolution on Friday, Arab and Islamic nations convened an emergency session of the General Assembly to vote on the humanitarian cease-fire, echoing the same demand. While General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, they serve as crucial indicators of global opinion.

The resolution does not explicitly mention Hamas, and two proposed amendments introducing the militant group were defeated. The assembly expressed "grave concern over the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip" and called for the protection of Palestinians and Israelis in line with international humanitarian law. The resolution demands compliance with humanitarian law and emphasizes the immediate and unconditional release of hostages, along with ensuring humanitarian access.

Tuesday’s vote showed major shifts in voting. More than 25 countries that abstained on Oct. 27 supported Tuesday’s cease-fire demand, including Albania, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, Greece, Iceland, India, Iraq, Japan, Latvia, Monaco, North Macedonia, Philippines, Poland, South Korea, Moldova, San Marino, Serbia, Sweden, Tunisia, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Zambia.

The General Assembly's President, Dennis Francis, decried the "onslaught on civilians" and emphasized the need for urgent action to stop the carnage. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield reiterated U.S. commitments to Israel's right to defend itself but urged measures to prevent mass displacement of civilians and ensure humanitarian assistance.

Israel's U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan warned that a cease-fire would only prolong the death and destruction, viewing it as a potential survival lifeline for Hamas. He suggested that nations desiring a cease-fire contact Hamas directly and display a sign with a phone number linked to Yehya Sinwar, the mastermind behind the October 7 attack.

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