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India abstains on UNGA resolution calling for humanitarian truce in Israel-Hamas conflict

United Nations: India has abstained in the UN General Assembly on a resolution that called for an immediate humanitarian truce in the Israel-Hamas conflict leading to a cessation of hostilities. It also called for unhindered humanitarian access in the Gaza strip.

Israel has launched a massive counter-offensive against Hamas after unprecedented attacks by the militant group on October 7 killed more than 1,400 people.

The 193 members of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), which met in a resumed 10th Emergency Special Session, voted on the draft resolution submitted by Jordan and co-sponsored by more than 40 nations including Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan, Russia and South Africa.

The resolution titled ‘Protection of civilians and upholding legal and humanitarian obligations’ was overwhelmingly adopted with 120 nations voting in its favour, 14 against it and 45 abstaining.

Besides India, countries that abstained included Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Ukraine and the UK.

The Jordanian-drafted resolution did not make any mention of the militant group Hamas, with the US expressing outrage at the ‘omission’.

Before the general assembly voted on the resolution, the 193-member body considered an amendment proposed by Canada and co-sponsored by the US to the text.

The amendment proposed by Canada asked for inserting a paragraph in the resolution that would state that the general assembly “unequivocally rejects and condemns the terrorist attacks by Hamas that took place in Israel starting on 7 October 2023 and the taking of hostages, demands the safety, well-being and humane treatment of the hostages in compliance with international law, and calls for their immediate and unconditional release”.

India voted in favour of the amendment along with 87 other nations, while 55 member states voted against it and 23 abstained. The draft amendment could not be adopted, having failed to obtain a two-third majority of members present and voting.

President of the 78th session of the UNGA, Dennis Francis, announced that the draft amendment could not be adopted.

The Jordanian-drafted resolution called for an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities.

It also demanded the immediate, continuous, sufficient and unhindered provision of essential goods and services to civilians throughout the Gaza Strip, including but not limited to water, food, medical supplies, fuel and electricity.

The draft resolution stressed the imperative, under international humanitarian law, of ensuring that civilians are not deprived of objects indispensable to their survival.

It also called for “immediate, full, sustained, safe and unhindered humanitarian access” for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and other United Nations humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners.

The draft resolution also demanded humanitarian access for the International Committee of the Red Cross and all other humanitarian organisations.

This should be done by upholding humanitarian principles and delivering urgent assistance to civilians in the Gaza Strip, encouraging the establishment of humanitarian corridors and other initiatives to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians, according to the resolution.

The US expressed outrage at the resolution not naming Hamas and called it an “omission of evil”.

“As you’ll notice, two key words are missing in the resolution before us. The first is Hamas. It is outrageous that this resolution fails to name the perpetrators of the October 7th terrorist attacks: Hamas. Hamas. It is outrageous,” US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, in her remarks before the vote on the resolution, said.

She added that another key word missing in the resolution is “hostage”.

“This resolution makes no mention of the innocent people – including citizens of many of you in this room – many of you here today who have citizens who are being held hostage by Hamas and other terrorist groups,” Thomas said.

“These are omissions of evil. And they give cover to, and they empower, Hamas’ brutality. And no member state – no member state – should allow that to happen. You should not let it stand,” she said.

The US envoy said it is for these reasons that Washington has co-sponsored an amendment put forward by Canada to the draft resolution “that corrects these glaring omissions”.

The resolution demanded that all parties immediately and fully comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, particularly in regard to the protection of civilians and civilian objects, as well as the protection of humanitarian personnel and to facilitate humanitarian access for essential supplies and services to reach all civilians in need in the Gaza Strip.

It also called for the rescinding of the order by “Israel, the occupying power, for Palestinian civilians and United Nations staff, as well as humanitarian and medical workers, to evacuate all areas in the Gaza Strip north of the Wadi Gaza and relocate to southern Gaza.”

The resolution called 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.

(Published 28 October 2023, 03:12 IST)

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