Europe Split On UNGA Resolution on a Truce

On Oct. 27, the United Nations General Assembly approved a non-binding resolution calling for a humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip. The resolution, presented by Jordan and other Arab nations, was approved by a large majority, with 120 countries voting for, 45 abstaining and 15 voting against. The vote is highly relevant politically, as it shows the international isolation of Israel’s right-wing government supported by the United States.

The Israeli ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, called this a day of “infamy”, denying the existence of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. To dramatize the issue, he showed up at the UN on Oct. 30 wearing a yellow star on his chest.

The European Union was glaringly split on the issue. Whereas some nations abstained, such as Italy, Germany and Poland, eight EU members voted for the resolution: France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovenia, (plus Switzerland), while four others joined the U.S. and Israel in opposing it: Austria, Croatia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Noteworthy is that the countries that abstained and voted against have both used the arguments put forward by Washington: that the resolution “does not condemn Hamas”, that it “does not demand the release of the hostages” and does not affirm “Israel’s right to defend from aggression”. However, the text voted up, as found on the UN website, exposes such arguments as dishonest.

The preamble of the resolution states: “Condemning all acts of violence aimed at Palestinian and Israeli civilians, including all acts of terrorism and indiscriminate attacks, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction”. Then, point 7 “Calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all civilians who are being illegally held captive, demanding their safety, well-being and humane treatment in compliance with international law”.

The third argument is only dealt with implicitly, in that the very first sentence states that the General Assembly is “Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations”. And Article 51 of that Charter affirms the right of every nation to defend from agressions by another entity. Despite its shortcomings, the resolution is focused on establishing the protection of human life through a truce.

France’s UN representative Nicolas de Rivière, who voted in favour of the resolution, made exactly this point: “Nothing can justify the suffering of civilians. All victims deserve our compassion, all lives are equal and there is no hierarchy between them.” The French representative regretted that the resolution did not contain an explicit condemnation of Hamas, but nevertheless we “must guarantee safe, swift, unhindered and sustainable humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip”.

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