19 Jun 2018

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UNGA adopts resolution on protection of Palestinian civilians

UNITED NATIONS, June 13 (Xinhua) — UN General Assembly(UNGA) on Wednesday adopted a resolution that urges protection of the Palestinian civilians, after rejecting a U.S. demand to add a condemnation of attacks on Israel by Hamas.

The Arab-backed resolution passed by a vote of 120-8 with 45 abstentions.

It reiterates the need to take steps “to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians and ensure their protection, as well as to ensure accountability for all violations,” in the context of recent escalation of conflict between the Palestinians and Israel.

Also, it deplores “the use of any excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force by the Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians.”

Initially sponsored by Algeria, Turkey and the Palestinians, the resolution got sponsorship from more countries shortly before its vote.

The General Assembly resolution expresses strong political will of the international community, though, unlike a Security Council resolution, is not legally binding.

Prior to the vote, the General Assembly cast ballots on the U.S.-drafted amendment aiming to condemn Hamas, which won a simple majority but fell short of two thirds of the votes required for its passage.

The amendment condemns Hamas for “repeatedly firing rockets into Israel” and “inciting violence along the boundary fence, thereby putting civilians at risk.”

Making a case for the amendment, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the resolution was “one-sided,” and held Hamas, which controls Gaza, “completely unaccountable” and blamed everything on Israel.

The Gaza-Israel border saw an escalation of violence after the Palestinians launched the “Great March of Return” protests in late March. The campaign, lasting through mid-May, demanded the Palestinian refugees’ right to return home.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian permanent observer to the UN, said before the General Assembly that 129 Palestinian protesters were killed, including 16 children, and 13,000 more injured in clashes with Israeli forces.

Earlier, a Kuwait-drafted resolution on the same topic and with almost identical text, was vetoed by the United States though wining 10 votes in favor in the 15-member council.

Wednesday’s vote was held during the General Assembly’s 10th Emergency Special Session entitled “Illegal Israeli action in occupied east Jerusalem and the rest occupied Palestinian territory.”

UNGA President Miroslav Lajcak convened the meeting following a request from the ambassadors of Algeria and Turkey in their respective capacities as chair of the Arab group and chair of the Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The session followed a series of Security Council and General Assembly meetings regarding the Israeli decision to build Har Homa, a 6,500 unit housing project, in the Jabal Abu Ghneim area of east Jerusalem.

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