120 countries at UN condemn Israel over Gaza violence

Delegations vote, to condemn Israeli actions in Gaza, in the General Assembly on June 13, 2018 in New York. (AFP / Don Emmert)
Updated 14 June 2018
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120 countries at UN condemn Israel over Gaza violence

  • The resolution put forward by Algeria and Turkey on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries won 120 votes in the 193-member assembly, with 8 votes against and 45 abstentions.
  • At least 129 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire during protests near the border with Gaza that began at the end of March. No Israelis have died.

UNITED NATIONS: The UN General Assembly on Wednesday adopted by a strong majority of 120 countries an Arab-backed resolution condemning Israel for Palestinian deaths in Gaza and rejected a US bid to put the blame on Hamas.
At least 129 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire during protests near the border with Gaza that began at the end of March. No Israelis have died.
The resolution put forward by Algeria and Turkey on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries won 120 votes in the 193-member assembly, with 8 votes against and 45 abstentions.
An amendment presented by the United States condemning Hamas for “inciting violence” along the border with Gaza failed to garner the two-third majority needed for adoption.
Addressing the assembly, US Ambassador Nikki Haley dismissed the resolution as biased against Israel and accused Arab countries of trying to score political points at home by seeking to condemn Israel at the United Nations.
“For some, attacking Israel is their favorite political sport. That’s why we are here today,” said Haley.
“I wish everyone supporting this one-sided resolution would put as much energy into encouraging President Abbas to the negotiating table,” she said.
The resolution deplored Israel’s use of “excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force” against Palestinian civilians and called for protection measures for Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
Arab countries backing the measure turned to the General Assembly after the United States used its veto in the Security Council to block the resolution on June 1.
Unlike the Security Council, resolutions adopted by the assembly are non-binding and there is no veto. The resolution tasks UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres with the drafting of proposals for an “international protection mechanism” for the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
These could range from setting up an observer mission to a full-blown peacekeeping force, but action on any option would require backing from the Security Council, where the United States has veto power.
Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour dismissed the US amendments blaming Hamas as “games and gimmicks” and urged ambassadors not to be “fooled” by the US proposal.
“We are asking for a simple thing,” Mansour told the assembly. “We want our civilian population to be protected.”
Turkey’s Ambassador Feridun Hadi Sinirlioglu defended the resolution, saying it was “about taking sides with international law” and showing the Palestinians that the world “does care about their suffering.”
Taking the podium, Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon assailed the measure as an “attempt to take away our basic right to self-defense.” He warned ambassadors that by supporting the resolution “you are empowering Hamas.”
The US amendment condemning Hamas received 62 votes in favor, with 58 against and 42 abstentions. The United States sought to challenge the ruling requiring a two-thirds majority but that was defeated in a separate vote.
“We had more countries on the right side than the wrong side,” Haley said in a statement.
The General Assembly last held a similarly contentious vote on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in December, when it rejected President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there.
Haley had warned at the time that Washington was “taking names” of countries that supported the resolution. That vote was 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions.
Backed by Arab countries, the Palestinians had lobbied to win as many votes as those cast in support of the Jerusalem resolution.


Houthi militia ‘must respect neutrality of aid workers’

Updated 19 January 2019
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Houthi militia ‘must respect neutrality of aid workers’

  • The recommendations came as UN monitors try to strengthen a cease-fire in the port of Hodeidah
  • Houthis were blamed for an attack on a UN convey on Thursday

 NEW YORK: UN experts monitoring sanctions against Yemen are recommending that the Security Council urge the Houthis to respect the neutrality and independence of humanitarian workers.

The Associated Press has obtained the nine recommendations the panel of experts made in their latest report to the council.

The recommendations came as UN monitors try to strengthen a cease-fire in the port of Hodeidah, key to the delivery of 70 percent of Yemen’s imports and humanitarian aid, and arrange a withdrawal of rival forces from the area agreed to by the government and the Houthis on Dec. 13.

While the agreement in Stockholm was limited, if fully implemented it could offer a potential breakthrough in Yemen’s four-year civil war.

The experts asked the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Yemen to engage with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s office, Yemen’s government and donors to “enhance” the UN mission inspecting vessels heading to ports in Yemen for illegal arms so it can “identify networks using false documentation to evade inspection.”

They also suggested that Guterres organize a conference with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank as well as other “key actors to best manage cash flows and imports of goods,” using the principles of the UN Global Compact on how companies should conduct business.

And the experts recommended that the secretary-general ask the UN inspection mission and monitors at the port of Hodeidah “to share information on potential cases of acts that threaten the peace, stability and security of Yemen,” including violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, the UN arms embargo, and obstructions of humanitarian assistance.

The experts also asked the sanctions committee to consider sending three letters. One would be to Abu Al-Abbas, a militia commander in the flashpoint city of Taiz, asking him to transfer artifacts and items from the Taiz National Museum in his custody to Yemen’s government. 

A second would be to alert the International Maritime Organization to “the risks posed by anti-ship cruise missiles and water-borne improvised explosive devices in the Red Sea and to encourage it to discuss these threats with the commercial shipping industry with the aim of developing suitable precautions and countermeasures.”

The third would be to alert the International Civil Aviation Organization of the risks posed by drones and munitions to civil aviation, particularly near busy international airports on the Arabian Peninsula “and encourage it to discuss these threats with airport operators and airlines with the aim of developing suitable precautions and countermeasures.”