Israel only country at UN to join US in supporting Cuba embargo

191 countries out of 193-member assembly support resolution denouncing trade restrictions with Havana

Members of the Security Council vote at United Nations headquarters in New York, July 20, 2015. (AP/Seth Wenig, File)
Members of the Security Council vote at United Nations headquarters in New York, July 20, 2015. (AP/Seth Wenig, File)

The UN General Assembly on Tuesday called for an end to the decades-long US embargo on Cuba in a resolution adopted by a near-unanimous vote, three months after US-Cuba diplomatic ties were restored.

The United States and Israel voted against the non-binding resolution, but a resounding 191 countries supported the measure in the 193-member assembly, the highest number ever.

The outcome was a diplomatic victory for Cuba, which has branded the embargo the main obstacle to its economic development and called for immediate steps to end it.

Last year, the United States and Israel had voted against the resolution and three countries — Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau — had abstained.

This year’s resolution welcomed the re-establishment of diplomatic ties after a 55-year break and recognized “the expressed will” of President Barack Obama to do away with the embargo.

The final decision however rests with the US Congress where the Republican majority opposes the move.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez voiced hope that the US Congress “moves to change this inefficient, cruel and unjust policy, anchored in the past.”

But he stressed that Obama has “broad executive prerogatives to substantially modify” the embargo, imposed in 1960 at the height of the Cold War.

Cuba estimates damage from what it terms a blockade to reach more than $830 billion.

“The lifting of the blockade will be the essential element that will give some meaning to the progress achieved over the past few months in relations between the two countries and set the pace towards normalization,” said Rodriguez.

In his remarks, US diplomat Ron Godard said the United States could not support the text because it did not reflect “the significant steps taken and the spirit of engagement President Obama has championed.”

“If Cuba thinks this exercise will move things forward in the direction that both governments have indicated they wish, it is mistaken,” he said.

The assembly has voted each year since 1992 to approve the resolution that highlights Washington’s isolation over its Cuba policy.

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