UNITED NATIONS: The 193-member United Nations General Assembly on Friday adopted a resolution calling for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce” between Israeli forces and Hamas militants in Gaza. It also demands “continuous, sufficient and unhindered” provision of lifesaving supplies and services for civilians trapped inside the enclave, as news reports suggest Israel has expanded ground operations and intensified its bombing campaign, UN News reported.
It marks the first formal response of the United Nations to the escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine since the Hamas attacks of October 7, after the Security Council failed on four occasions to reach a consensus on any action.
The resolution, calling for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities”, was proposed by Jordan and backed by over 45 Member States. An amendment, proposed by Canada and backed by over 35 Member States, including the US, seeking an explicit condemnation of Hamas, did not pass, failing to get two-thirds support. The resolution, which garnered 121 votes in favour, 44 abstentions and 14 member states voting against it, also demanded the immediate, continuous, sufficient and unhindered provision of essential goods and services to civilians throughout the Gaza Strip.
The resolution does not make specific mention of the militant group which controls Gaza, Hamas, one of the key issues which led to a Canadian amendment being proposed. The amendment by Canada “unequivocally rejects and condemns the terrorist attacks by Hamas” in Israel starting 7 October and the taking of hostages. Several countries including the US, spoke out forcefully in favour of the amendment. The votes on the amendment were 85 for, 55 against, with 23 abstentions, so it failed to get the required two-thirds majority.
The resolution calls for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce”, and demands all parties comply with international humanitarian law and “continuous, sufficient and unhindered” provision of essential supplies and services into the Gaza Strip.
It also calls for the “immediate and unconditional release” of all civilians held captive as well as demanding their safety, well-being and humane treatment in compliance with international law. The Assembly’s resolution is only symbolic because unlike the Security Council it does not have the power to enforce it.
Fighting in the Gaza Strip has entered day 22 after Hamas members launched a surprise attack on Israel, killing at least 1,400 people on October 7. Since the October 7 Hamas attack, Gaza’s health ministry has said that Israel’s retaliatory bombardments have killed more than 7,000 Palestinians.
Here is what the member countries who participated in the two-day emergency session said during the debate.
Meeting amidst death in Gaza: Palestine
“We are meeting here while Palestinians in Gaza are under the bombs,” Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, said, speaking first.
Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, addresses the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
“You are speaking while families are being killed, while hospitals are coming to a halt, while neighbourhoods are being destroyed, while people are fleeing from one place to another with no safe place to go.”
“There is no time to mourn,” he said tearfully, pointing to the rising death toll. “If you do not stop it for all those who have been killed, stop it for all those who can be saved.”
Citing personal accounts of life on the ground, he said humanitarian aid is badly needed. Hospitals are operating without anaesthetics, with doctors and patients alike wondering if help is on the way.
“This time, it’s just too much,” he said.
Mansour, recalling Israel’s recent comments in the UN Security Council about how its people are suffering, said Palestinians are suffering too. Israel’s representative had called to “release the hostages, then takes two million Palestinians hostage”, he added.
There are 1,000 Palestinians killed every day, he said, adding that nothing can justify war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“Why not feel a sense of urgency to ending the killing,” he said. “You are setting us back 80 years by trying to justify what Israel is doing now.”
Palestinians have survived decades of occupation, 16 years of a blockade and five wars in Gaza, he said.
The answer to the killing of Israelis and Palestinians is not more killing, he said, asking the UN membership to uphold UN principles and keep future generations from the scourge of war.
“The only path forward is justice for the Palestinian people,” he said.
“Vote to stop the killing, vote to stop this madness,” he said. “Choose justice, not vengeance. Choose peace, not more wars. Vote to put an end to almost three weeks of the worst double standards we have seen in decades. Do not miss this chance. Lives are hanging in the balance. Please, save lives, save lives, save lives.”
India calls for de-escalation
Ambassador Yojna Patel of India speaks in response to the resolution being adopted at the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
United Nations Ambassador Yojna Patel of India speaks in response to the resolution being adopted at the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
India’s Deputy Permanent Representative Ambassador Yojna Patel said the 7 October terror attacks are shocking, calling for the immediate release of the hostages. Casualties in Gaza are a continuing concern and the crisis needs to be addressed, she said.
India abstained in the resolution vote.
Welcoming ongoing efforts and reiterating support for the two-State solution, she urged the parties to de-escalate the violence and work towards resuming substantial peace negotiations.
US: ‘Omissions of evil’ to avoid reference to Hamas or hostages
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of US to the UN, emphasized that the death, destruction and desperation “playing out before our eyes is enough for anyone to lose faith in humanity.”
Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield of the United States addresses the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Citing “barbaric acts of terror by Hamas”, Ms Thomas-Greenfield stressed “there is no justification for terror – none whatsoever. You all know that and we must condemn Hamas’ acts of terror.”
Ms Thomas-Greenfield said that to the terrorists of Hamas, civilians “are expendable.”
She said Israel was exercising its right and responsibility to defend its people from Hamas, but “it must do so in line with rules of war” and with respect for international humanitarian law.
Recalling her country’s work to help protect civilian lives and ensure humanitarian assistance into Gaza, she called on all Member States to also alleviate the humanitarian suffering there.
“Time is of the essence and lives hang in the balance,” she said.
Turning to the resolution, the US Ambassador emphasized that two key words were missing in the draft.
“First is Hamas, it is outrageous that the resolution fails to name the perpetrators of the 7 October terrorist attack,” she said, adding that the other “key word missing is hostage; this resolution makes no mention of the innocent people, including citizens of many of you in this room, who have citizens that are held hostage by Hamas and other terrorist groups.”
“These are omissions of evil, they give cover to and empower Hamas’ brutality, and no Member State should allow that to happen,” she stressed.
Ms Thomas-Greenfield noted that the US has co-sponsored an amendment by Canada that corrects these omissions, condemning Hamas’ terrorist attacks and calling for immediate and unconditional release of hostages.
“This is the bare minimum we would hope to see on this resolution,” she said, urging all Member States to support the amendment.
“The General Assembly must send a clear message to the world that we stand against all acts of terror and that we stand with all those who are being held hostage,” she added.
The Ambassador recalled a statement by President Joe Biden that “there is no going back to the status quo, as it stood on 6 October.”
“We must not go back to a status quo, where Hamas terrorizes Israel and uses Palestinian civilians as human shields, and we must not go back to a status quo where extremist settlers can attack and terrorize Palestinians in the West Bank.”
This means that when this crisis is over, there has to be a vision of what comes next, in our view that vision must be centred around a two-state solution. Getting there will require a concerted effort by all of us, she said.
UK: Take all steps possible to protect civilian life
The United Kingdom’s Minister for the Middle East, Lord Tariq Ahmad, began by offering condolences to UN staff and medics who have lost their lives under bombardment in Gaza, together with the victims of the 7 October attacks in Israel and the families of innocent Palestinians killed.
“Every life that is lost is a tragedy. Not just for a family in Israel, Gaza or the West Bank but for all of humanity.” He called on all parties to respect international humanitarian law, calling for the unconditional release of hostages and unhindered humanitarian access.
Lord Ahmad said it was urgent to scale up aid through the Rafah crossing, and praised the UN Secretary-General and all staff who are working tirelessly to ensure aid reaches those in need. He said humanitarian pauses were essential to allow aid through.
The UK stands with Israel in the face of Hamas terror and Israel’s right to self-defence, he underlined but stressed this must be within international law.
Stating a ”personal view”, as a Muslim, the British peer said “terrorism is evil” and every act of terrorism is against humanity “and we must condemn it unequivocally”.
On this basis, the resolution before the Assembly “should be clearer on this point.”
However, the UK has been equally clear that all steps must be taken to minimize harm and ensure civilian movements are voluntary and safe.
“In this moment of darkness” he said, let’s come together and not lose sight of the promise of a two-state solution to the conflict.
“We in the UK will continue to work closely with all partners in the region and beyond in these efforts because peace must prevail.”
Türkiye: Peace not possible if Palestine’s aspirations are denied
Permanent Representative of Türkiye to the United Nations, Sedat Önal said that with a paralyzed Security Council, it is up to the General Assembly to rise to the occasion. Based on principle, Türkiye co-authored the resolution introduced today, which contains the minimum of what we need to put an end to the carnage and ease tensions on the ground.
Targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure will not bring security. Peace will not be possible as long as Palestinians’ aspirations for freedom, dignity and statehood continue to be denied.
Saudi Arabia: International failures
Abdulaziz M Alwasil, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia to the UN, said that the killing and destruction in the Gaza Strip is not only creating a humanitarian catastrophe but is also having dire consequences and repercussions on the security of the region and the world.
Ambassador Abdulaziz M Alwasil of Saudi Arabia addresses the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
“We have clearly condemned the targeting of civilians by any party, called for a ceasefire, stop to the bloodshed, immediate lifting of the siege, release of hostages, and providing humanitarian assistance and support to those affected,” he said.
“We also condemned the attempts at forcible displacement and policies of collective punishment against the population in Gaza, including the starvation of civilians as a weapon of war,” he added.
Reaffirming the priority should be to work for peace, Ambassador Alwasil called for compliance with international conventions and laws.
He stressed the current crisis was due to the failure on the part of the international community to end Israeli occupation and implement a two-state solution.
“Silence in the face of illegitimate Israeli practices, whether over the past 70 years or even recently is what led the region to the current crisis,” he said, warning of a possible spillover of the conflict that would threaten global peace and security.
Egypt: ‘Enough is enough’
Silence over the basic rights of Palestinians under fire in Gaza “is no longer an option” said Egypt’s Ambassador Osama Mahmoud Abdelkhalek.
Ambassador Osama Mahmoud Abdelkhalek of Egypt addresses the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
He said there had to be one standard applied to all, including Palestinians, as opposed to double standards.
“No to targeting civilians, no to terrorism, no to violating international humanitarian law, no to bombarding hospitals and medical centres, no to killing children, no to the siege and no to cutting off all basic necessities of life.”
He said no to forcible displacement and liquidating human rights: “No to genocide – all people are equal.” He said it was key to speak out to not be – quoting an Arab proverb – a “mute devil that does not speak out for the truth.”
“Enough is enough,” he said. “We can no longer bear what is happening to the Palestinians.”
Defending the work of the UN in Gaza and its calls for a humanitarian ceasefire, Ambassador Abdelkhalek said that that had nothing to do with supporting terrorist aggression, but was an important first step “to stop the bloodshed.”
He denounced the policy of besieging and starving civilians of the Gaza Strip, saying that denying them water had “no place in the 21st century. They are reminiscent of practices of the Middle Ages.” He called on the Assembly to demand aid is delivered to Gaza, “without any conditions”, adding that otherwise it would mean “a death sentence for the people of Gaza.”
Displacing Gazans for the third time in history from their land must be “rejected categorically”, he added
Iran slams ‘genocide’
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran, said that it has been three weeks that the international community has been a witness to the “war crime and genocide of the occupying Israeli regime in Gaza and the West Bank of Palestine.”
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian of Iran addresses the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. He said that the US and several European countries sided with Israel and they refer to the Palestinian liberation movement as “terrorists”.
“Unfortunately this is the state of our world today. This is the situation of the Security Council, which was supposed to try to establish world peace and security,” he said.
Amir-Abdollahian called on the US to work for peace and security and not war against people, women and children, stating “instead of sending rockets, tanks and bombs, to be used against Gaza, the United States should stop supporting genocide in Gaza and Palestine.”
“I say frankly to the American statesmen who are now managing the genocide in Palestine, that we do not welcome the expansion of war in the region, but I warn if the genocide in Gaza continues, they will not be spared from this fire,” he stressed.
“It is our home and West Asia is our region, we do not compromise with any party and any side, and we have no reservation when it comes to our homes’ security.”
He also noted that according to Iranian negotiations, Hamas is ready to release civilian prisoners, on the other hand, the international community should support the release of 6,000 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
We must stand for peace: Jordan
On behalf of the Arab Group, Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi said “there is no room for grey areas”.
Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi of Jordan addresses the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
“We must stand for peace, our human values and the UN Charter,” he said. “History will judge us. Say no to war. Say no to the killing. Call out war crimes.”
As the killing continues, he said the Israeli Government have cabinet members that call for “wiping out Palestinians from the face of this Earth”.
“Israel is making Gaza a hell on Earth,” he said. “The trauma will haunt generations to come.”
Israel must uphold values, he said. “The right to self-defence is not a right to impunity; Israel cannot remain above the law,” he said. “Let the guns go silent and let the will to live and let live prevail. Let’s restore faith in the peace process as the only path to ending this conflict once and for all.”
Safadi said Jordan, on behalf of the Arab Group, will table a draft resolution after the UN Security Council failed to do so again on Wednesday.
“Vote for it; make a stand,” he said.
“Let’s make a collective cry, a cry out against more bloodletting,” he said. “Let’s unite for peace.”
“Make a stand for peace, make a stand for life, make it clear, make it firm,” he said, calling for a moment of silence for all the civilians and innocents who have perished during this war.
Qatar condemns the targeting of civilians
Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Qatar to the UN, said the crisis threatens the security of the region and the world and voiced regret over the failure of the Security Council to act.
Ambassador Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani of Qatar addresses the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
She called on all parties to deescalate and move towards a full ceasefire; immediate release of all prisoners, particularly civilians; delivery of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip; and opening of safe humanitarian corridors.
Ms Al-Thani reaffirmed her country’s condemnation of targeting civilians, particularly women and children, as well as “our unequivocal rejection of the siege imposed by Israel, the occupying power”, depriving 2.3 million people – half of them children – of their basic needs.
She urged all Member States to support the Jordanian-led draft resolution and to send a “message of hope”.
In conclusion, she said, “Qatar continues to contribute to the ongoing diplomatic efforts to find a way out, that will stop the bloodshed of our Palestinian brothers and ensure a sustainable political solution in accordance to the well-known terms of reference and steer the region away from spiralling into chaos and violence.”
Israel: Day of ‘infamy’
Gilad Erdan, Ambassador of Israel to the UN, said in response to the resolution passing that “today is a day that will go down in infamy”.
“We have all witnessed that the UN holds not even one ounce of legitimacy,” he said. “The UN is committed to ensuring further atrocity. According to the family of nations, Israel has no right to defend itself.”
There are no talks or discussions to be held with Hamas, he said, adding that Israel will not sit idly by to let them commit atrocities again. The resolution does not mention Hamas once, as if the war started on its own.
“What is going on here?” he asked, questioning whether the goal was to tie Israel’s hands. “The only way to destroy Hamas is to root them out. Why are you not holding Hamas accountable?”
“We know there is no humanitarian crisis in accordance with international humanitarian law,” he said, noting that every statistic comes from Hamas about information about Gaza.
Anyone interested in preventing violence should call on Hamas to lay down their arms, turn themselves in and return all hostages, he said.
“If this were to happen, the war would end immediately,” he said. “This is a dark day for the UN and mankind. Israel will defend itself and will do what must be done to eradicate Hamas’ capabilities and bring the hostages home.”
In his earlier intervention on day one, Gilad Erdan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN, said that the 7 October massacre and what ensued “has nothing” to do with the Palestinians, the Arab-Israeli conflict or the Palestinian question.
Ambassador Gilad Erdan of Israel addresses the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
“This is not a war with the Palestinians, he said. “Israel is at war with the genocidal jihadist Hamas terror organization. It is the law-abiding democracy of Israel against modern-day Nazis.”
He went on to note that Hamas does not care about Palestinian people, peace or dialogue. Its only goal is to “annihilate Israel and murder every single Jew on the face of the Earth.”
Erdan spoke of the brutal killings of innocent Israeli civilians and the intentional targeting of Israeli medical teams that were trying to help the injured during the terror attack. He questioned the “hypocrisy” that there is not a single condemnation of the barbarity against Israelis.
“The hypocrisy is beyond belief,” he stressed
“There are no words in any language to describe the evil we just witnessed,” at the hands of a Hamas militant, he said, adding that it is not describable because it has no place in humankind.
“ISIS was the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and Hamas is the Islamic State of Gaza. Just as was done with ISIS, Hamas must be no more,” he declared, stating that the goal of Israel is to “completely eradicate Hamas’ capabilities and we will use every means at our disposal to accomplish this.”
“Not for revenge, not for retaliation. But to ensure such depravity and atrocity never occurs again,” said the Israeli ambassador.
France: The Security Council must act
France’s Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière speaking after the resolution passed, said his delegation voted in favour, as “nothing justifies the killing of civilians”.
“We have to work collectively to set up a humanitarian truce because the situation in Gaza is catastrophic,” he said, noting that France has already sent an aid vessel. “The Assembly must call for the release of hostages.”
However, the adoption of this resolution cannot replace the Security Council’s efforts nor the decisions that the organ must now adopt, he said, expressing hope that the Council can reach a decision.
“We have a duty to prevent a worsening of the situation,” he said. “The only viable solution is a two-state solution.”
Brazil: Condemnation for all attacks on civilians
Sérgio França Danese, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN, expressed “unequivocal condemnation” of the heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas, including the taking of hostages.
He also “clearly condemned” the attacks that are indiscriminately killing and wounding civilians and destroying homes in the Gaza Strip, depriving them of basic tools for survival.
França Danese said Brazil, the President of the Security Council for October, welcomed the emergency session after the Security Council failed to adopt any of four draft resolutions on the crisis, including one proposed by his delegation, which drew 12 votes in favour.
The robust support given by Council members to the resolution “indicates that it was a balanced text,” he said, describing the resolution as “solidly rooted” in international humanitarian and human rights law, and “fundamentally committed to the humanitarian imperative.”
European Union: Humanitarian access essential
The European Union’s UN Representative, Olof Skoog, said the EU deeply regretted the use of the veto in the Security Council because the crisis requires a strong, timely, united message by the Security Council.
The urgency is to provide safe, rapid, unhindered humanitarian access to populations in need, by all possible means, whether a “corridor” or a “humanitarian pause” – but this must not be exploited by terrorists.
He said the EU is ready to contribute to the resumption of the political process on the basis of a two-state solution and supports the holding of an international peace conference as soon as possible.
He understood the need to reach a consensus in the General Assembly in the absence of a Security Council’s resolution adding that the EU had worked constructively and formulated amendments, to overcome divisions.
Jamaica: Devasting consequences of escalation
Brian Wallace, Jamaica’s Permanent Representative who spoke for Caribbean Community CARICOM, said that If we do not immediately put an end to the conflict, it could escalate into a wider regional war.
Ambassador Brian Wallace of Jamaica addresses the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
He expressed concerns about the implications for international stability, with devastating consequences, particularly for small vulnerable island states such as those in CARICOM, which are “already struggling to overcome multi-faceted challenges.”
“Let us recognize once and for all the utter futility of war, violence and terror,” he said, reaffirming CARICOM’s continued support for UN Security Council resolution 242, calling for accelerated efforts for a peaceful and lasting resolution to the conflict.
Venezuela: End ‘inflammatory rhetoric’
Taking the floor first on Friday, Joaquín Alberto Pérez Ayestarán, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Venezuela, also spoke on behalf of the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations.
He called for an immediate ceasefire and end to all hostilities directed towards civilians and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, refugee centres and food warehouses.
“We also call for restraint and urge an end to all inflammatory rhetoric and dehumanizing language, which in no way serves ongoing political and diplomatic efforts to deescalate…and on the contrary, only further stokes tension and violence endangering thousands of innocent lives,” he said.
On behalf of the Group, he called on the Security Council to urge Israel to heed the latest calls by the UN Secretary-General including sticking to the principles of the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, and relevant international law.
There’s no objection to holding a vote at 3 PM. Venezuela is now taking its turn to speak at the podium.
The Assembly also decided by general consent that for the adoption of any draft resolution, and any amendments to it, a two-thirds majority will be required.
The President of the General Assembly Dennis Francis has taken his seat and gavelled the special session to order. The Jordanian ambassador is making a point of order.
He’s calling for the suspension of the debate at 3 PM today, to initiate “immediate action” on their resolution.
Delegates are gathering in the gilded General Assembly Hall for a long day ahead.
A dozen of the 110 speakers due to take the floor spoke on Thursday and we’ll continue coverage here on Friday for day two from 10 AM New York time.
The emergency session is expected to vote on a Jordanian-backed draft resolution on the crisis, which among others calls for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce”, all parties comply with international law, and continuous and unhindered aid into the Gaza Strip.
Venezuela is expected to take the floor first on Friday, followed by Jamaica. Qatar, Egypt and the United States are also expected to be among the early speakers.
Mauritania bemoans the lack of consensus
Ambassador Sidi Mohamed Laghdaf of Mauritania addresses the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Sidi Mohamed Laghdaf, Ambassador of Mauritania to the UN, spoke on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation saying the absence of any moral, legal, or political consensus has only emboldened the occupying power to carry on with impunity its illegal policy of colonial settlement and annexation.
He pointed to Israel’s years-long blockade, forced displacement of Palestinian civilians, systematic ethnic cleansing, organized acts of terrorism, and desecration of holy places, including Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.
He added that Israel was persisting with its denial of the violation of the inalienable right of people to self-determination and independence. This unacceptable situation must be brought to an end, he said.
Ghana: World must find ‘fierce agency’ for peace
Ghana’s Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative Carolyn Oppong-Ntir, said her delegation voted in favour of the resolution because, among other reasons, the humanitarian crisis could not be ignored.
“We have a responsibility as an international community to help end the heart-breaking tragedies” in Israel and Palestine, she said. “Out of this tragedy, we must find the fierce agency to support the two parties to resume and conclude a peace agreement” and advance the two-state solution.
She said her country – a current Security Council member – voted in favour of the resolution because, among other reasons, the humanitarian crisis could not be ignored.
“We have a responsibility as an international community to help end the heart-breaking tragedies” in Israel and Palestine, she said. “Out of this tragedy, we must find the fierce agency to support the two parties to resume and conclude a peace agreement” and advance the two-state solution.