UN General Assembly to discuss war in Gaza after failed ceasefire resolution

General Assembly could vote on a nonbinding text calling for a ceasefire, after US blocked Security Council resolution last week and called it ‘divorced from reality’

Riyad Mansour, Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, speaks during a United Nations General Assembly meeting about the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, at UN headquarters in New York City on November 28, 2023. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP)
Riyad Mansour, Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, speaks during a United Nations General Assembly meeting about the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, at UN headquarters in New York City on November 28, 2023. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP)

UNITED NATIONS — The UN General Assembly will meet on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Gaza, officials and diplomats said Sunday, after the United States last week vetoed a Security Council resolution for a ceasefire in Israel’s war with Hamas.

A special meeting of the General Assembly has been called for Tuesday afternoon by the representatives for Egypt and Mauritania “in their respective capacities as Chair of the Arab Group and Chair of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation,” a spokesperson for the Assembly president said.

According to diplomatic sources, the General Assembly, whose resolutions are nonbinding, could vote on a text for a ceasefire resolution at the meeting.

A draft of the text seen by AFP closely follows the language of Friday’s vetoed Security Council resolution, “expressing grave concern over the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.”

It calls for “an immediate humanitarian cease-fire” as well as the “immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.”

The Security Council resolution vetoed by the US failed to condemn Hamas’s October 7 massacres in Israel — in which thousands of terrorists killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, amid acts of horrific brutality and took about 240 hostages — nor did it acknowledge Israel’s right to defend itself.

Following a weeklong truce in November in which 105 hostages were released, it is believed that 138 hostages remain in Gaza, although in recent days the IDF has confirmed the deaths of 18 of those held by Hamas due to new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.

The war against Hamas in Gaza was triggered by the terror group’s shock onslaught on October 7. In response, Israel launched an aerial campaign and subsequent ground operation through which it vowed to eliminate Hamas and end its 16-year rule.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza has said that more than 17,700 people have been killed since October 7, although the number cannot be independently verified and is believed to include some 7,000 Hamas and Hamas-affiliated terrorists, as well as civilians killed by misfired Palestinian rockets.

US Ambassador Alternate Representative of the US for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations Robert A. Wood raises his hand during a United Nations Security Council meeting on Gaza, at UN headquarters in New York City on December 8, 2023 (Charly Triballeau/AFP)

On Friday, the United States blocked the Security Council ceasefire resolution, which came after Guterres raised Article 99 — which hadn’t been used at the UN since 1971 — due to the “high risk of the total collapse of the humanitarian support system in Gaza.”

Guterres said Hamas’s brutality against Israelis on October 7 “can never justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

“While indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas into Israel, and the use of civilians as human shields, are in contravention of the laws of war, such conduct does not absolve Israel of its own violations,” he stressed.

The UN chief detailed what he called the  “humanitarian nightmare” Gaza is facing, citing intense, widespread and ongoing Israeli attacks from air, land and sea that reportedly have hit 339 education facilities, 26 hospitals, 56 health care facilities, 88 mosques and three churches.

Israel notes that Hamas deeply embeds its military infrastructure — missile launchers, weapons depots, command centers and entrances to tunnels — among the civilian population, including schools, hospitals, mosques and residential buildings.

After vetoing the resolution, US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood criticized the council for its failure to condemn Hamas’s October 7 massacres in Israel and said that the resolution was “divorced from reality” and “would have not moved the needle forward on the ground.”

He declared that halting military action would allow Hamas to continue to rule Gaza and “only plant the seeds for the next war.”

At the end of October, in another of its resolutions, the General Assembly called for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities” between Israel and Hamas.

Two weeks later the Security Council broke its silence on the war for the first time by calling for “extended pauses and humanitarian corridors” — using less clear language than a ceasefire or a truce.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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